Community Care readers overwhelmingly believe that the pay gap between senior public sector managers and frontline staff has grown too wide. In an online poll answered by 445 people, more than 98% thought pay inequality had grown too large.
In local government, where most public sector social workers are employed, headline pay growth for chief executives and chief officers, including adults’ and children’s services directors, has matched increases for frontline staff, with a rise of 2.475% for 2007-8.
But, in practice, increases for top executives have been much higher. A survey by Local Government Employers, which represents English and Welsh authorities, found that in 2005-6 salaries grew by 7% for first-tier officers, such as directors, compared with a 2.95% pay settlement generally.
Unison national officer Deborah Littman said: “While tough limits to public sector pay rises have been rigorously applied to local authority front-line staff, the same cannot be said of those in senior positions.”
The same poll found that nearly half of first-tier officers received almost £5,000 in additional payments on average, such as regional allowances, while 80% received £5,300 in performance-related pay on average.
Average basic pay for social services directors, in April 2006, was just over £111,000. As of September 2005, councils paid children’s social workers a maximum of £29,900 on average and adults’ practitioners £29,300.
Jon Sutcliffe, strategic adviser at LGE, said councils often needed to compete with the private sector, where pay was much higher, when recruiting senior officers, and called for more use of performance-related pay.
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Are executive pay levels in the public sector an affront to frontline practitioners, a just reward for a complex role or simply market forces at work? E-mail Simeon Brody or add your comment to the blog at www.communitycare.co.uk/paydivide. The best-argued comment, as judged by the editor, will win a Christmas hamper