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Wiltshire Council plans to axe more senior staff
6:30pm Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
WILTSHIRE Council leader Jane Scott has defended pay rises to senior officers and says she is disappointed that the people of Wiltshire don’t trust the council more.
A fortnight ago the Adver revealed that the council wants to give pay rises to service directors and other senior staff to keep pace with pay at similar authorities.
Coun Scott has received angry letters from the public criticising the council for being insensitive.
She said: “I’m disappointed that people don’t seem to trust the council but the people of Wiltshire should understand that we have reduced the senior management team of this council and it is now costing them less.
“We have reduced the back office costs and we are a leaner and more efficient authority. I would say we are certainly as lean if not leaner than any other council of a similar size.”
She said she has had a letter demanding to know how much she earns and asking her to justify it.
“I am very transparent about what I am paid,” she said.
“It is on the council’s website. I work between 60 and 70 hours a week and I earn about £40,000. With the hours I put in, that’s not even minimum wage. If the person who wrote [the letter] wants to come and do it they are welcome.”
She believes the people of the county don’t fully understand the reasoning behind the senior officers’ pay rises.
“It is frustrating that we haven’t got the whole story out to people,” she said.
“We haven’t looked at senior pay since about 2008 and when we found we were unable to recruit to certain posts and that we were losing people we realised we needed to look at it.”
Coun Scott said one senior manager had left for the same job at a similar-sized council for £40,000 more.
The council took advice from the Hay Group, an independent auditor that compares pay in the commercial and public sector.
It recommended the rises, which Coun Scott said would amount to a five per cent rise of up to £4,000 if officers move up one pay grade.
“I understand why people were annoyed,” she said.
“But the fact is that we have saved money on our senior management team.
“In 2009 we had a senior team of 33 costing £3.5 million. Now we have a team of 21 costing £2.4 million.”
The next phase of the council’s cost cutting at senior level is to cut its service directors, the tier of senior management just below the three top corporate directors, from 18 to 14.
The proposal to make the change, which would save another £500,000, is out for consultation with staff until tomorrow and is expected to be rubber stamped by the Cabinet on Tuesday.
Coun Scott said: “This is the next phase.
“We will be merging some of the responsibilities and asking our service directors to work more as a team and to be innovative.
“They need to be thinking how they can work efficiently and to save money. We have a business plan and now they have to put it into action.
“This authority is only four years old.
“For the first 18 months we were trying to transform five [authorities] into one without one falling over.
“Since then, over the last two-and-a-half years, we have been on this programme of transformation.
“We have got hubs going in, our buildings are costing less to run. This consultation is the next building block.
“We have delivered. We have cut our management costs and the largest slice of that reduction has come from the top.
“We had too many chiefs and they cost too much.”
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