Council leader defends ‘insensitive’ senior salary rises as price for value (From This Is Wiltshire)
Council leader defends ‘insensitive’ senior salary rises as price for value
9:00am Sunday 22nd September 2013 in Latest News
Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott has defended pay rises to senior officers and says she is disappointed that people do not trust her council more.
A fortnight ago, the Wiltshire Times revealed the council wants to give pay rises to service directors and other senior staff to keep pace with pay at similar local authorities.
Cllr Scott has received angry letters from the public, criticising the council for insensitivity.
She said: “I’m disappointed that people don’t seem to trust the council, but [they] should understand we have reduced the senior management team and it is now costing them less.
“We have reduced the back office costs and we are a leaner and more efficient authority. I would say we are certainly as lean, if not leaner, than any other council of a similar size.”
She said she got a letter demanding to know how much she earned and to justify that pay.
“It is on the council’s website. I work between 60 and 70 hours a week and I earn about £40,000. With the hours I put in, that’s not even minimum wage.”
She believes county people do not fully understand the reasoning behind the pay rises.
“We haven’t looked at senior pay since about 2008 and, when we found we were unable to recruit to certain posts and that we were losing people, we realised we needed to look at it.”
One senior manager left for the same job at a similar-sized council for £40,000 more.
The council took advice from the Hay Group, an independent auditor that compares commercial and public sector pay. It recommended the rises, amounting to five per cent, of up to £4,000, if officers moved up a pay grade.
“In 2009, we had a senior team of 33, costing £3.5 million. Now we have a team of 21 costing £2.4 million,” said Cllr Scott.
The next phase of cuts at senior level is of service directors, the tier below the three top corporate directors, from 18 to 14. It could save £500,000 and is expected to be rubber-stamped by the cabinet on Tuesday.
Cllr Scott said: “We will be merging some of the responsibilities and asking our service directors to work more as a team and to be innovative.
“This authority is only four years old. For the first 18 months we were trying to transform five [authorities] into one. Over the last two-and-a-half years, we have been on this programme of transformation. We have got hubs going in, our buildings are costing less to run. We have delivered. We had too many chiefs and they cost too much.”
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