Wednesday, 25 April 2012

H&F Council revealed as "fat cats" by TPA

The Tax Payers Alliance, a Conservative supporting campaign group, has pointed the finger squarely at our own Council for being among the worst offenders in the UK for paying vast public sector salaries to their officials at the Town Hall.

The revelations will be highly embarassing for H&F, which likes to position itself as among the vanguard of Cameron's new vision for streamlined and responsive local government. Not what the tax payers alliance seems to have found. Key findings of the report are that:

  • Geoff Alltimes, the Chief Executive who retired last year, topped the National table with a salary of £281,666. This was in addition to the retirement payment of around a third of a million pounds he received.
  • Derek Myers, Hammersmith and Fulham’s new Chief Executive, was third (out of 326 nationwide) in the table with £268,475. 
  • 5 Senior Executives received salaries of around £200,000: 
  • Jane West, Director of Finance - £206,133 
  • Nigel Pallace, Director of Environment – £195,865 
  • James Reilly, Director of Community Services - £180,777
  • Andrew Christie, Director of Children’s Services - £198,367 
  • Frank Hansen, Assistant Director - £182,400 
  • 22 Officers received salaries of more than £100,000, but the council keeps most of their names and what they do secret – they are simply listed as “unknown title”. This from a council that describes itself as among “Britain’s most transparent councils”. 

Andy Slaughter MP has unsurprisingly been quick to respond to the report, he said this:
"This report is welcome and most revealing. When taken in tandem with revelations about the Council’s use of consultants – notably Nick Johnson, to whom it paid £170,000, free of tax and VAT, in this period, without being able to show me a proper job description or contract – it is a shocking expose of this council is prepared to throw money at directors and senior executives, while cutting services for the most vulnerable people in the borough".
Those cuts look like this - real people living real lives. Thankfully as we saw yesterday there are some projects which are now springing up which try to deal with the impact of the recession and reduced services in the local area, but residents have every right to ask questions about the size of some of these salaries.

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:
"Taxpayers will be astonished that so many council employees are still getting such a generous deal while everyone else in the public sector is facing a pay freeze. As millions of voters across the country prepare for local council elections, it is vital that they can make an informed choice about which local authorities are delivering value for money. The Town Hall Rich List shows that while councils insist cuts can only mean pressure on frontline services, some clearly have cash in the bank when it comes to paying their own senior staff. These council executives must ensure they have the moral authority to lead necessary spending cuts, in many cases that will mean taking a pay cut themselves. Households have seen their Council Tax bills double over the last decade and deserve better value.” 
H&F will argue that their merger of many services with Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster Councils have both saved salaries of officials running the same services and therefore resulted in bigger jobs for those who have stayed - and there is a logic to that. It should also be said that they have reduced the council tax level for residents in consecutive years - and are understandably keen to highlight that. But they will not appreciate the scale of their largesse with our cash being on full public display.

1200 UPDATE - The Council has been in touch about this and they are not happy bunnies. An official described the figures as 'very very old', pointing out that Geoff Alltimes no longer works at H&F and that they are saving approximately £200k by sharing a Chief Exec with two other councils, among other things. 

A spokesperson told me:
"This council's pursuit of value for money is relentless which is one of the reasons we decided to share a chief executive with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea - saving taxpayers £200,000 a year. In addition to this saving Tri-borough working means we have been able to slash the number of senior and middle management posts by 50% - dramatically reducing the overheads incurred in delivering front line services. This has help us cut council tax by 3.75% this year - the biggest amount in the country - and the 5th cut in 6 years. This is what residents care about."

1 comment:

  1. These salaries would be high even in the private sector. The council is not a profit-seeking organisation so in no way can justify these rates - the argument that public sector wages need to match the private sector to retain the best talent is spurious at best.

    The numbers outlined here are just salaries. What other benefits do they get? Are there performance bonuses? How many days holiday do they get? Do they receive health insurance? And what hours do they work to justify these numbers?

    These jobs are important but the public pocket is not there for the picking. Not when others are taking pay cuts.