Twelve executives from Advantage West Midlands walked away with payoffs of more than £100,000 funded by the taxpayer after the quango was scrapped to make savings for the public purse.
Accounts for the regional development agency, which was axed by the coalition Government, show corporate director Mark Pearce took home £312,147 and a £13,500 bonus after taking early retirement – shortly before becoming managing director at Hereford Enterprise Zone.
The total cost of departing AWM executives has set the public purse back £7.2 million, after the body was one of eight scrapped across the UK to make way for local enterprise partnerships.
Meanwhile, the accounts for the year to March 31 also reveal that assets worth more than £33.7 million have been transferred from the region to Whitehall, including venture capital loan funds and interest in Business Link West Midlands.
That is separate to the £64 million worth of land and property assets which have been transferred to the Homes and Communities Agency.
MP for Birmingham Erdington Jack Dromey said AWM had been successful in generating private sector investment and it was madness to pay such a high price to disassemble it.
However, a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) said while it would cost close to £60 million in compensation to close the eight agencies, that compared to a £200 million annual administration bill.
“Advantage West Midlands was the most successful regional development agency in England,” Mr Dromey said.
“At a time of double-dip recession it was a tragic error to abolish Advantage West Midlands. Now to add insult to injury we discover that sacking hundreds of dedicated employees of AWM cost the taxpayer £7 million.
“This is the economics of a mad house.”
The accounts show three executives pocketed between £150,000 and £250,000 to leave, while a total of 35 earned between £50,000 and £100,000.
However, chairman Roy McNulty said, in a statement, that AWM had been an “effective and efficient” organisation which had invested £3 billion of UK and European Union funding.
He said every £1 spent had led to more than £8 of related activity in the regional economy. He added: “The principal reason the West Midlands continues to lag behind much of the rest of the UK is because the region has failed to get all the key players united and sufficiently focused on economic development in the widest sense.”
The accounts show Mr Pearce was the most richly-rewarded director last year, with a total package worth £450,541.
Chief executive Mick Laverty – the only person made compulsorily redundant – picked up a total of £331,537, including £140,772 in compensation.
Elsewhere, corporate director Karen Yeomans, who left the agency four months into the financial year in July 31, picked up £191,581, including £143,162 in compensation, and fellow director John Doherty was paid £190,441, including £54,533 in compensation.