Pay rise for half of staff at St Edmundsbury – despite public sector freeze, and jobs and service cuts

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A COUNCIL has given pay rises to nearly half of its staff – while making cuts to jobs and services.

Despite National public sector pay freezes, 44 per cent of staff at St Edmundsbury Borough Council, including some of its top earners, have received pay rises of between 2.5 and five per cent.

At the same time, the council has increased car parking charges, cut back on services and made job cuts.

The move, which cost £145,000, has been defended by Cllr David Ray, portfolio holder for performance and resources.

“We have a policy where there have been no automatic increases,” he said at a council meeting.

He said six members of its 480 staff had their pay cut for ‘poor performance’.

“I think we would be wrong to remove the incentive of that scheme to award good performance and have pay reductions for poor performance,” Cllr Ray said.

But Cllr David Nettleton, who raised the issue at Thursday’s meeting, and The Taxpayer’s Alliance have both criticised the move.

Cllr Netttleon said the majority of businesses were freezing pay in an attempt to save jobs – the opposite of what the council was doing.

“I think people will be perplexed by this.

“It is not logical never mind moral,” he said.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “With savings needing to be found by local authorities, and businesses and families alike having to tighten their belts, a pay freeze at St Edmundsbury Council has been absolutely necessary.

“It therefore beggars belief that nearly half of all council employees are getting a pay increase for ‘good performance’.

“Far too often in the public sector, these kind of rewards get handed out as a matter of course to all and sundry rather than to those few who have performed exceptionally.

“Sadly, it would appear that those running St Edmundsbury Council think that the public sector pay freeze shouldn’t apply to them.”