A Pay Freeze at £140,000 is Not the Same as One at £14,000

Cross-posted at Harry’s Place.

The Press and Journal reports on fulsome support from Local Authority Chief Executives for freezes on their pay. Alistair Dodds of Highland Council:

Highland Council chief executive Alistair Dodds, who is paid £140,112 a year, added: “It is important that chief executives show leadership on this issue in these times of budget challenges.”

Although much less egregious than Fred Goodwin splashing out on a £3.5 millions gaff in Edinburgh, pay freezes on such salaries don’t have the same impact as on a clerical worker at £14,000. Indeed, as the Highland News reports, there appears little initiative to reduce high-end salaries for new staff:

So it will come as a surprise to many haunted by the spectre of swingeing cuts to learn that the £46,000-a-year post of Gaelic development manager has just been filled despite it having been vacant for the past six months.

Gaelic promotion attracts a very vocal lobby and has Scottish Government backing while others question how essential it is to spend public money on. But leaving aside these issues, it seems odd to make an appointment to such a senior post at this stage when the council is supposed to be looking at all areas for savings.

Adding to the unease among frontline service staff and users is likely to be the move, due to be debated yesterday (Wednesday), to extend the £51,000-a-year temporary post of “strategic performance and business intelligence manager” in the chief executive’s department.

Compare and contrast to the possible fates of low-end staff in the Chief Executive’s own department:

At the same time, councillors were being asked to “delete” lower grade posts in the department of a cook, a admin assistant and a clerical assistant to make a combined saving of £24,000.

One commenter on the P&J website says of the Aberdeen City Council Chief:

Sue Bruce’s comments are a bit deceptive when she’s just raised Dept head salaries from £68-75K and executive salaries from £100-107K. Her own salary was increased to 135K from 125K prior to her being hired (after spending ~2 million to pension off Doug Patterson). Watch them ask for double figure increases again next year because they took nothing for a few months. I would suggest a 15% decrease for all would be helpful (and well earned).

Elsewhere the P&J observes:

The top social work job in the north has been advertised by Highland Council, offering an annual salary of £105,450 – up by £450 on last year despite the recession.

Current housing and social work director Harriet Dempster is retiring early at 58. Her departure has cost the council – which is continuing to seek £41million of budget cuts over three years – £57,385.

The authority is looking for “a committed and experienced professional” to head the service. The closing date for applications is June 30.

[…]

I could be very committed at even half that salary, which is five times the average.

HAT TIP – Gurn from Nurn.

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