Council chiefs challenged about high salaries of £100,000-plus

Bosses at councils that oversee Mansfield have been challenged about their large wages after the release of fresh data by the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 4:43 pm
Mansfield Civic Centre, home of Mansfield District Council.

’Town Hall Rich List 2021’ discloses the number of council officials across the country who received a total remuneration package (including salary and pension contributions) of more than £100,000 in 2019/20.

They include three on Mansfield District Council, plus seven at Nottinghamshire County Council, while there were none at Ashfield District Council.

In the UK as a whole, the number of council officials getting more than £100,000 per year has gone up by 2,802 since the previous year. It is now at its highest level since 2014.

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The alliance questioned the necessity for such high pay deals at a time when council tax was rising in many areas and when many families were beginning to struggle after the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Mansfield, council-tax bills are going up by 2.7 per cent, for the second year running, in 2021/22. Council tax across the country has more than doubled in the last 20 years, claims the alliance.

The ‘Rich List’ is compiled from each council’s published, audited accounts. It is designed as a tool for taxpayers wanting to judge which councils are delivering the best value for money. That is considered particularly important for residents facing squeezed household budgets during the coronavirus crisis.

The alliance provides a council-by-council breakdown, calling on authorities to end tax rises and to cut down on wasteful spending.

In a public poll, 59 per cent of respondents believed councils should freeze or cut the salaries of senior staff.

John O’Connell, the alliance’s chief executive, said: “Taxpayers facing huge and hated council-tax rises want to know they are getting value for money from their local council leadership.

"At the onset of the coronavirus crisis, thousands of town-hall officials were taking home huge sums.

"While councils were plunged into tackling the pandemic, many staff will have more than earned their keep. But households have nevertheless struggled with enormous and unpopular council-tax rises.

"These figures shine a light on the council bosses who have got it right, and will enable residents to hold to account those who aren’t delivering value for money.”

The data revealed that the average number of employees who received more than £100,000 per UK council was seven.

The highest number was at Essex County Council, with 40 employees, while 31 officials across the country got in excess of £250,000.

In the East Midlands, the council with the most employees (16) to receive more than £100,000 in 2019/20 was Lincolnshire. The biggest remuneration package was £278,350, awarded to the joint chief executive of Bolsover District Council.

At Mansfield Council, the chief executive received a total package (including pension contributions) of £143,000, while its two strategic directors got £103,000 and £100,000.

At Nottinghamshire County Council, the remunerations (including pension contributions) to make the ‘Town Hall Rich List’ were: chief executive £222.006, corporate director of place £164,118, corporate director of adult social care and health £158,148, corporate director of children and families care service £174,967, service director for finance and infrastructure £120,482, service director customers and governance £120,020, and director of public health £114,258.

Off 411 councils in total on the list, Nottinghamshire was ranked 141st for highest earners and Mansfield 254th.

Critics of the figures point out that pension contributions would not generally be considered as annual salary. Indeed, if salaries only were counted, just one officer at Mansfield, the chief executive, would be pocketing more than £100,000.

For Mansfield District Council, Karen Barke, human resources manager, said: “The senior officer salaries at Mansfield District Council are subject to approval by the council’s personnel committee, having benchmarked salaries across the East Midlands for local authorities.

"Pay awards are made in line with the joint national committee for chief officers. Our salaries are more or less in line with the average in this region for these roles.”

Anthony May, chief executive of Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “We are the tenth largest local council in England and directly employ 7,500 people. In fact, 14,000 when including our maintained schools, plus a further 1,471 people employed in the council’s arms-length companies.

"The council has a gross budget of £1 billion and provides more than 400 services to a population of more than 810,000, including some of the county’s most vulnerable.

"The council is committed to openness and transparency in its approach to setting the pay of our most senior officers, whose salaries are independently evaluated, external to the council.

"Every year, we publish on our website a pay policy statement, which sets out this information in detail.

"This statement reflects the council’s continued policy of paying the Living Wage Foundation rate of pay to our lowest-paid employees – currently £9.50 per hour – which mainly benefits part-time, female workers and those living in some of the most deprived areas of the county.

"The council has also applied the nationally-agreed pay award for 2020/21 to all employees across the organisation.

"The number of employees receiving more than £100,000 total remuneration is seven, which is in line with the average across all local councils in the UK.

"The county council has been at the forefront of Nottinghamshire’s response to the pandemic and will play a key role in the county’s recovery over the coming months. It is important that the council continues to attract the best-quality leaders.”