Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Council Wage Bill Soars

I have to declare an interest here - Perth and Kinross council is my local council. For the first time I read today that the wage bill in P & K has rocketed by more than £18 million since the recession began.

It's reported one senior councillor said 'the public had been left flabbergasted and alarmed' by what he termed the 'astronomical' rise.

I'm certainly not flabbergasted or alarmed, I'm just furious. This is an SNP led council. In past years they've been competent in handling the budget, so what has gone wrong since October 2008?

Figures obtained by the Courier, using FOI legislation, revealed the average local authority employee earns more than £3,000 a year more than they did before the downturn. Those working in the chief executive's department have seen their wages rise by an average of 40% - an increase of more than £10,000 per person.

The council's total wage bill for 2008-09 was almost £168 million, compared with just under £150 million in 2006-07. A total of 5965 staff shared £167,868,492 last year - an average of £28,140 for each employee.

Those in the chief executive's department earned an average of £35,790 per person, compared with just over £25,400 two years previously.

The telephones in Perth and Kinross council will be red hot this morning with angry council tax payers wanting answers. I will express my opinion by email.

Although this is a local issue for me, it made me wonder how many other councils throughout the UK have been so generous to their employees with your council tax money. Maybe it would be worth a FOI to find out just how much your council wage bill as increased in the past couple of years.


Hythlodaeus said...

Council Chief Executives are a problem all over the country. Private Eye keeps a veritable rogues gallery about them in it's Rotten Burghs columns.

The problem is often that the council don't have control (or much knowledge) of their senior worker's pay and conditions because that is the job of the Chief Executive.

subrosa said...

Surely Hythlodaeus, the fundamental work of councillors is to examine expenditure throughout a council.

I don't mind being corrected...

Demetrius said...

Given that local government staff have final salary pension schemes, given the age of many, and given that the first tactic in shedding jobs is to allow early retirements then it is possible to sweeten the pill that many salaries have been massaged upwards for those who are about to leave. Just a theory. The slight snag is that these pension schemes are all now in serious deficity and the mean length of pension liability is thirty or so years. So you will be paying for a long long while.

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Perhaps the answer lies as a pre-emptive measure to up the salaries before the public expenditure cuts and freeze takes effect?

About par for the political course of this country - and do we have the SNP in on the action?

Crinkly & Ragged Arsed Philosophers said...

Apologies to Demetrius. Crashed out the comment without checking previous comment.

Observer said...

This sounds very unlikely to me. Council wages are set by collective bargaining at Scotland wide level, they are not individually negotiated so unless there has been a massive restructure or something I reckon this is mince designed to attack an SNP Council.

The wage bill may well have risen if it includes retirement/voluntary redundancy packages. All public sector organisations are downsizing. But these costs come from reserves and won't affect Council tax payers.

I honestly don't think that this story is accurate.

Why would Perth and Kinross have gone on a spending spree when everyone else has gone into thrift mode?

subrosa said...

That's a worthy theory Demetrius. I just hope councillors can explain it to the electorate.

It would be interesting to see if other councils had the same problem.

subrosa said...

I'm hoping the SNP will come up with an answer, like yesterday RA. :)

subrosa said...

I wouldn't think D C Thomson would give such accurate figures and write such an article without it having substance Observer. It's about the only Scottish paper which will give a bit of credit to the SNP.

If you notice I don't think it mentions in the article it's an SNP council. In fact I doubt a majority of the local electorate even knows that.

How do we know everyone else has gone into thrift mode? Have all councils published their salary bills yet?

Just saying... :)

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