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Council leader defends huge pay hikes
WILTSHIRE Council leader Jane Scott has defended pay rises of up to £19,000 to senior officers and says she is “disappointed” people don’t trust the council more.
The council plans to give pay rises of as much as 16 per cent to service directors and other senior staff, while its workforce is slashed by 5.7 per cent and the pay rises of non-executive staff are frozen at one per cent.
Cllr Scott said 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.”
The council has cut back the number of service directors it employs from 21 to 18, with the chief executive’s role and three corporate directorships cut.
“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,” added Cllr Scott.
The council took advice from the Hay Group, an independent auditor that compares pay in the commercial and public sector, which recommended the pay hikes.
“I understand why people were annoyed, but the fact is that we have saved money on our senior management team,” said Cllr Scott.
“In 2009 we had a senior team of 33 costing £3.5m. Now we have a team of 21 costing £2.4m.”
The council’s central government funding will reduce by £22m over the next four years, with the authority intending to make around £120m worth of cuts.
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.
* STAFF at Wiltshire Council are being told they need to take more responsibility as the organisation is restructured. The council is launching a programme called Transformational Leadership, later this year, which will see employees given an assessment looking at their strengths and weaknesses - receiving advice on how they can improve.
Cllr Stuart Wheeler said: “We are trying to change for the future. You cannot force someone to change but you can give them the tools which
can be used to change the culture of the organisation.”
As part of the council’s cost-cutting, 252 voluntary staff redundancies have been made delivering savings of £4m with an expected ongoing annual saving of £6.9m coming from salary costs.
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