First rise in high earners at county council since 2011, accounts reveal

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House in Ipswich.

Suffolk County Council's headquarters at Endeavour House in Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

The number of high earners at Suffolk County Council has risen for the first time in four years, according to new figures.

In 2014/15 the number of employees earning more than £50,000 a year was 193 – up from 178 in 2013/14.

It had previously fallen every year since 2010/11.

Last night, county council officials said recent re-organisations, and a 1% pay increase awarded to staff, had caused the rise.

In particular, in May 2014 Suffolk’s Customer Service Direct (CSD) organisation was re-absorbed by the county council – it had previously been run as a separate body.

A total of 700 staff moved back onto the county council payroll, including many skilled workers.

The figures are revealed in the county’s latest statement of accounts – which also show how the number of those paid directly by the authority who earn more than £55,000 a year has increased over the same period.

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In 2011 the £55,000 threshold was used to publish details of salaries – and in that year the county had 77 members of staff listed as earning this amount. Now that figure has increased to 111.

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for finance, Richard Smith, said: “This marginal increase in the number of senior officers now earning over the £50,000 threshold within the authority is due to the fact that we have taken all former Customer Service Direct staff back into the organisation following the end of the contract.” The number of workers earning over £50,000 has been much higher in the past.

In 2008/9, it was 224, rising to 251 in 2009/10, 253 in 2010/11, but then falling to 214 in 2011/12 and 198 in 2012/13.

Two years ago, the county council also took over many of the public health functions that had previously been undertaken by Suffolk Health – and many members of staff, including some on quite high salaries – transferred with them.

However, while the county council has taken on new responsibilities and new staff, it has also seen some of its work transferred to outside bodies.

The library service was transferred to the new independent body in 2012 and over the last few years the county has also transferred its care homes, its building and design services, and its highways services to external contractors – significantly reducing its workforce.

This year has also seen a small, but significant rise in staff wages as the Government allowed salaries to increase by 1%.

Nineteen of the employees earning above £50,000 a year are on £50,132. If they had received a 1% pay rise they would have been on £49,650 last year – and would therefore not have been included in the figures.

Similarly, 13 of those on £55,000-plus are on £55,300, indicating they would have been under that threshold in 2014.

However, the council said the over-riding factor was its absorption of the CSD functions and staff. Although some of the 700 were no longer with the authority, most were continuing with their previous jobs within the authority.

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