On Monday I went to the nearby village of Winston, Suffolk, to hear Andrea Hill, chief executive of the county council talk about local government in an age of austerity.
She is paid £218,000 a year putting her among the best paid council bosses in the country. Not much austerity there then, although she has passed on two pay rises which would have taken her pay to £229,000.
It would be very interesting to know what her total package including allowances and pension contributions is worth. Perhaps that is something the East Anglian Daily Times (EADT) which today called on her to take a pay cut whould like to investigate.
One of the things that surprised me at Winston was that she said one of her tasks was to find ways of transferring staff to other organisations without them taking their county council terms and conditions of employment with them.
Not surprising that this is something she is trying to do, but surprising that she should say so in a public meeting.
Finding ways to cut other people’s pay must be a reason why she is paid so highly. It is also a horrible reflection on the society in which we live: talk about building a “big society” while screwing others.
The “strategic direction” (aka cutting costs) at Suffolk County Council involves contracting work out to charities, social entrepreneurs, parish councils and using volunteers to do work which has been done by honest paid men and women.
The EADT wants all of the 250 or more people working for the council on salaries of more than £50,000 a year to take pay cuts. I suspect that many of them will have no choice if they are forced out to work with some of the new organisations which will provide the contracted-out services. Ms Hill is determined to see people who are transferred to other employers, move on less favourable terms.
Kathy Pollard, a Lib Dem county councillor points out in her blog that the bill for managers earning over £50k has gone up from £6m five years ago to £16m last year.