Council top brass set for pay hike to help plug recruitment gap

Endeavour House, Ipswich

Babergh and Mid Suffolk councils are based at Endeavour House, in Ipswich - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Top ranking council officers are set for a pay boost as part of efforts to entice candidates following an unsuccessful recruitment drive.

An independent review recommended that Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils increase senior officer pay to help fill vacancies and keep salaries competitive.

The East of England Local Government Association carried out the review following a failed attempt to recruit a new assistant director for communities and wellbeing, shared with Suffolk’s clinical commissioning groups, and ahead of the retirement of the councils’ chief finance officer in early 2022.

It found that the two councils, which have not reviewed senior officer pay since 2011, had a good record of recruiting staff when salaries were competitive, but had less success when offered salaries fell short of market expectations.

Recommendations will be voted on at Babergh and Mid Suffolk's full council meetings next Tuesday and Thursday.

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If approved, the move will be the latest in a series of changes to the way the councils are run, including removing the deputy chief executive and one strategic director role, directly aligning all assistant directors to the councils’ priorities and reducing the number of corporate managers by six.

Proposals would see an assistant director salary set at £78,000 to £90,000, a strategic director salary set at £100,000 to £120,000, and the salary of the chief executive set at £140,000 to £160,00.

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For 2020/21, respective top salary grades were set at £74,292, £96,804 and £134,503.

Including overheads, and assuming all members of the senior leadership team reach the top of the recommended new grades, the annual impact to each council’s budget would be £47,856, said the report.

Opposition Green and Liberal Democrat group leader, Andy Mellen said: "The reason this is being proposed is because we're struggling to recruit senior staff. From that point of view, it's understandable that we need to make Babergh and Mid Suffolk more attractive places to work.

Andy Mellen at Wherstead Park

Opposition Green and Liberal Democrat group leader, Andy Mellen - Credit: Jason Noble LDRS

"Part of the issue is having two sovereign councils with one workforce, which provides another layer of complexity in the working lives of officers.

"As the opposition, we feel uncomfortable that just raising senior officer pay could demotivate other staff, and would like to see a root and branch review of all staff salaries and benefits.

"There are various views within the group and there will be a divergence of opinion, I suspect."

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