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Plan to increase council leaders’ pay by up to 26%

Ian Gallin
Ian Gallin

Senior leaders at West Suffolk Councils could see their pay leap by up to 26 per cent if proposals are approved on Tuesday.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council is recommended to approve new proposed salary ranges for the joint chief executive and leadership team.

A report to council says the new salary bands are needed to retain and recruit ‘high calibre employees’.

Ian Gallin, joint chief executive, is currently paid at the top of his wage band – £121,091. If approved, the revised chief executive salary band would be £130,000-£142,500 (an up to 17 per cent increase).

The salaries of the councils’ leadership team are determined by the joint chief executive pay band, so the councils’ directors and assistant directors would also see their wages increase.

The two directors – with a current maximum wage of £84,238 – could see their salaries range from £97,500 to £106,875 (potentially a 26 per cent increase), while the six assistant directors’ salaries could increase from the current maximum of £73,708 to a £78,000–£85,500 wage band (an up to 15 per cent increase).

Cllr Trevor Beckwith, independent, said he expected to vote against the proposal.

“I really don’t get it. The rest of the country is on pay restraint all over the place – in the public sector, armed forces, NHS and police – except the high flyers in local authorities it seems,” said Cllr Beckwith.

Cllr David Nettleton, Charter Group Leader, said: “I don’t see why they’re doing this. The other option is to retain the current pay bands, which is what I would do.”

A report to the council by the East of England Local Government Association said: “It is now very clear that similar roles in other councils have overtaken West Suffolk in terms of pay and reward. This presents a risk to the West Suffolk Councils in recruiting and retaining key staff.”

It adds that most senior staff are now at the top of their pay bands and that recruiting to such posts could cost more than £30,000.

But John O’Connell, chief executive of campaign body the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said council executives were already receiving high salaries for work often defined by legislation, with decisions not carrying the same level of risk as in other organisations.

“The council should exercise pay restraint to show residents they are serious about spending money as wisely as possible.”

Pay structures across the council have not been reviewed since 2012, but since then there has been the introduction and increases to the national living wage and new pay awards, such as the two per cent for public sector staff announced recently.

St Edmundsbury leader John Griffiths and Forest Heath leader James Waters said in a joint statement: “Our main priority is making sure we deliver high quality services and ensuring the prosperity of our communities while achieving value for money.

“However, it is right to review our current situation and the future challenges we face. This means being financially prudent councils but also making changes, if necessary, to make sure we pay people the right amount of money to deliver our ambitious programme.

“These small proposed changes will benefit all staff and still mean the gap between the highest and lowest paid in the organisation remains much lower than the private and public sector average.”

Both councils cut the senior management total pay bill by almost half in 2012 and saved £4 million a year in shared services.

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