By Paul Geater, local government correspondent
Thursday, June 16, 2011
TOP earners at Suffolk County Council – who cost council tax payers about £7million between them last year – can today be revealed by the East Anglian Daily Times.
THE senior Suffolk County Council staff listed here all earn very good money.
In fact, their combined pay totals well over £5m.
What the EADT has consistently said about these people is that they should all take a 10% pay cut.
Doing so would be a really powerful message of solidarity to Suffolk’s hundreds of thousands of council tax payers, many of whom are struggling financially in these difficult times.
If all staff on the list reduced their pay by 10%, the total cost saving would be around £700,000 a year, including reduced on-costs.
Well worth having for an authority which is struggling to balance its budget and considering cutting cherished services.
The county has a list of staff earning more than £55,000 on its website – these are centrally-employed staff, not including teachers or other school officials.
And while the salaries are as stated, on-costs to the authority including pension contributions and National Insurance costs add another 20% to the employment bill.
That pushes the total figure for these managers to £7m.
Heading the list is chief executive Andrea Hill whose £218,000 salary has been widely reported.
The salary list was compiled in October last year, and at that time there were four directly-employed directors listed.
Simon White is interim director of children and young people and is not directly employed by the council, and director of resource management Graham Dixon left the authority at the end of March.
The figures concerned Dr Dan Poulter, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP, who was concerned that too many managers were seeing their salaries rise while staff in the front line were facing wage freezes or tiny increases.
He said: “It is those right at the sharp end, the social workers, the care workers, library staff, and those directly dealing with the public who are facing increasingly tough times.
“Yet there seems to be an increasing number of managers who are earning what is by any standards a very good salary. I can understand people being concerned about that.”
Opposition Liberal Democrat councillors completed their own survey of high-earners at the county council last year.
That showed that among all county employees – including school staff – the salaries paid to all staff earning more than £50,000 had increased significantly.
The total wage bill for these high earners had gone up from £6m to £16m over the last five years.
Lib Dem leader Kathy Pollard said: “We have very serious concerns about the growth in the number of highly-paid staff at the county council over recent years.
“At a time when everyone is struggling to make ends meet, we are seeing the salary costs increase significantly and this is something that the administration needs to address urgently.”
The county defended its management structure – saying it remained one of the most efficient in the country.
Council deputy leader Jane Storey, who is responsible for finance at Endeavour House, said: “Suffolk County Council published these figures last October as part of our efforts to be as open and transparent as possible.
“The county council is a large organisation which requires an appropriate management structure to be in place to make sure it operates effectively.
“We have, however, reduced the number of senior management posts in recent years – and a public sector-wide pay freeze currently in place means these staffing costs will not have increased. Despite the difficult job they have to perform, Suffolk County Council has the lowest cost executive management team pay bill of all county councils in the Eastern region.”