The shamed child protection chief who failed to speak out about British Pakistani gangs grooming young white girls has been forced out of her consultancy role after the Department of Education ruled her employment breached guidelines.
Sue Berelowitz, who was the deputy children’s commissioner earning £99,333 a year, took voluntary redundancy and stepped down on 30 April with a six figure pay off. But the very next day, Berelowitz was re-hired by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) earning £960 a day, over four times the WEEKLY pre tax pay of someone on the minimum wage.
She was criticised for downplaying the role of groups of Pakistani men in the widespread Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) scandals which hit predominantly northern towns with Labour run councils.
But it didn’t stop her taking £134,000 in severance pay for roughly about eight hours of unemployment, continuing to chair an inquiry into sexual abuse within the family which had formed part of her work portfolio in her previous role.
But following orders from the Department of Education after the scandal was exposed, her contract was cancelled.
A spokesman from the OCC admitted the quango had breached government rules which require spending on consultants over £20,000 to be approved by the cabinet office. Since Ms Berelozwitz’s contract was due to run until November, this exceeded the Whitehall cap.
“Sue Berelowitz’s consultancy contract was terminated last week,” Oliver Berman said. “The contract has a one- month notice period.”
“Sue is absolutely committed to addressing child sexual abuse within the family context and is considering all options so that the inquiry continues,” He added. But he ruled out the OCC providing Ms Berelowitz with any salaried employment. The Treasury signed off her “special severance” unaware that she was going to be rehired the next day, meaning she received almost twice as much as normally is permitted in cases of voluntary redundancy.
Other government departments have been fined up to £1 million for failing to meet rules which state that senior officials cannot be off-payroll except in “exceptional circumstances”.
The news was welcomed by anti-CSE campaigners including UKIP MEP Jane Collins who said she was “very pleased the Department for Education has seen sense and cancelled Ms. Berelowitz’s highly paid contract.”
“It is plainly wrong to give someone a huge payoff one day and then let them start a lucrative contract, with the same department the next day.”
The former Rotherham candidate, who has been deeply involved with the campaign to help the victims and is even being sued by three Labour MPs for speaking out, added “the money would be far better spent on directly on the victims, rather than being wasted on quangos.”
And former head of the home affairs select committee Keith Vaz MP described the pay off as “totally unacceptable”. Fellow Labour MP Simon Danczuk, who represents Rochdale where cases of CSE have also been uncovered, said it was no longer acceptable for Ms Berelowitz to carry on with her role chairwoman of the sex abuse inquiry.
“I am pleased that the Department for Education has intervened — it can’t be right that quangos carry on in the way this one has done,” he said. “She’s not part of the organisation because she’s not being paid to be part of the organisation. It doesn’t make sense for her to have any involvement in it,” he added.
But this isn’t the end of the troubles for the OCC who could also face a large fine as Treasury officials investigate why Ms Berelowitz was rehired and her pay put through a private company instead of receiving a salary allowing her substantial tax savings and getting the OCC out of paying National Insurance contributions, which were set up to pay for social care. She said that her newly created company, Sue Berelowitz consulting Ltd, would “pay all relevant taxes in full.”
In a statement released following the decision, the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said:
“I have been advised by the Department for Education that they now judge our contract with Sue Berelowitz to lead the inquiry into child sexual abuse within the family context to fall outside government rules and have therefore cancelled it.
“We are considering how the inquiry will continue with its important work, which we are all firmly committed to.”