Prescott questions chief executives’ pay

The government has signalled it could step in to curb the high
levels of pay being awarded to local authority chief executives and
other senior management, writes Derren

Speaking at the Local Government Association annual conference
in Harrogate this morning, deputy prime minister John Prescott said
pay for senior staff was an issue that “we need to think
through before it gets out of hand…and the justifiable
exception becomes the unjustified norm”.

Prescott said exceptional circumstances might require
exceptional pay in individual cases but asked: “How can it be
right for a local authority chief executive to be paid more than
the prime minister?

“If there is a big award for a chief executive, what is
the effect on salaries for other staff? What happens when
authorities start to offer bigger and bigger packages to fill
senior posts,” he asked.

Bradford Council is currently advertising for a chief executive,
offering an annual salary of £200,000 per annum, while it is
not uncommon for social services directors to be paid £80,000
a year.

LGA chairperson Sir Jeremy Beecham said he did not
“necessarily agree” that chief executives should not be
paid more than the prime minister, but admitted councils had to be
aware of the “sensitivities” around pay.

“You could argue the prime minister is underpaid. The
question is what is the right level of pay for
responsibilities,” he asked.

Prescott also said the government was considering putting local
authority representatives on the boards of foundation hospital
trusts, and was committed to reducing the amount of money that was
ring-fenced for particular purposes.

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