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East Anglian Daily Times calls for 10% pay cut for top 79 county officials

Another day and another story about Suffolk County Council and money in the Archant newspapers. The East Anglian Daily Times “reveals” the pay of the top earners (79 of them).

The median pay is about £70,000 a year. The average would be  higher, largely because of the huge differential between Andrea Hill (£215,000) and the next highest paid (£125,000).

Jane Storey. deputy leader of the council, tells the paper: “Suffolk County Council published these figures last October as part of our efforts to be as open and transparent as possible.”

Up to a point, Lord Copper. Yes, they were published and I found them several months ago. But a look at the press release archive shows no evidence of a public announcement.

Publishing on a website without telling people is hardly being transparent.

The money paid to these senior people will shock many and some salaries will shock most people.

But caution is needed. The rates for many of the jobs need to be compared to those of other professionals, doctors, lawyers, head teachers and accountants for example.

The 10% (figure amended to correct error) across the board cut advocated by the EADT would almost certainly throw up examples of injustice.

While the paper produces the salaries as a list (not online), the  source document which is online is in the form of organisation charts. I am not management consultant but it looks to me top-heavy.

Do we really need to have three tiers of management above the head librarian? But that post has been made redundant while the upper layers remain intact.

In fact, a number of jobs in the list are now redundant or vacant.

A flattening of the organisation structure would not only bring savings but would make the whole organisation more responsive.

The EADT also mentions research by the Lib Dems showing that the total wage bill for high earners at the council had gone up from £6m to £16m over the last five years.

Ms Storey tells the paper that the number of senior management posts had been reduced and the council has the lowest cost executive management pay bill in all counties in the Eastern Region.

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  1. mary ann ball says

    Hi Andrew; many years experience of local government until I left(for a private sector job) during the Andrea Hill regime at Cambridge have shown me that the Peter principle (aided by networks,buddyism and so on) is alive and well in local councils. The guided bus project’s management is one example. One of the more impressive people I worked with, Christine Fanish, Andrea’s predecessor went on to a successful career in the private sector. I can’t see many, except the lawyers and accountants, doing that.

  2. JTM says

    Hi Andrew,

    I suppose the problem is that we tend to make comparisons between professions, these might not always be fair, but they’re unavoidable.

    In the case of your post you list lawyers, doctors and head teachers as professionals earning similar sums to SCC senior management. All true. But it is very clear with those you list that they have real skills and offer a valuable service. Unfortunately in the cloistered world of local government it is not ever all that clear that those in charge have the appropriate skills or offer a particularly useful service. And comparisons with the private sector are not all that useful either and, as far as I’m aware, transfer between public and private (rather than the other way round) is rare.