MPs call for SCC chief to take pay cut

IPSWICH’S two Conservative MPs today joined forces to urge the chief executive of the Tory-run county council to take a massive pay cut.

Ipswich’s two Conservative MPs today joined forces to urge the chief executive of the Tory-run county council to take a massive pay cut.

Ben Gummer and Dr Dan Poulter backed the call by local government and communities secretary Eric Pickles for highly-paid council chiefs to take substantial pay cuts.

He told the Conservative Party conference that council chief executives earning �150,000 should take a 5pc cut, while those on �200,000 could afford to lose 10pc of their salary.

Suffolk County Council chief Andrea Hill earns �218,000 a year, but once pension and National Insurance contributions are taken into account her package is worth nearly �270,000 a year.


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Mr Pickles made the suggestion as he described the Government as a “coalition of thrift” and called on everyone paid by the taxpayer to follow the lead shown by senior ministers.

He said: “Everyone in the public sector must do their bit to cut back.

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“The Prime Minister’s taken a pay cut, I’ve taken a pay cut, so I say to my many chums who are council chief executives – it’s your turn now.

“Trust me, I’m here to help, you will feel better for it – you’ll be able to look your council workers in the eye.”

Mr Pickles also reiterated his insistence that no new council chief executives should be appointed on a salary greater than the Prime Minister’s �142,500.

Ipswich council is currently looking for a new chief – with an advertised salary of about �90,000 a year.

The speech went down well with the conference, and especially with Ipswich’s two new MPs.

Dr Poulter, who represents North Ipswich and Central Suffolk, said: “The problem for me is that a lot of the people concerned are on very high salaries compared with those who work with them.

“For those on a salary of more than �200,000 but many of the staff are earning less than a tenth of that: how can you tell them they have to have a wage freeze if you do nothing to address your own salary?

“Suffolk is facing a cut of 30pc of its money. Everyone is facing tough times and it is good if those at the top are seen to be in this with everyone else.”

Dr Poulter said other organisations like health authorities should also be looking at top salaries.

That was a theme taken up by his colleague Mr Gummer, who represents Ipswich.

He said: “I wholeheartedly agree with what Eric said about the need to make tough decisions and to show restraint as we pick up the mess from the last government.

“All parts of the public sector have a part to play in that – in the health bureaucracy as well as the sector that has attracted the most attention over the last few years.”

- Should Mrs Hill take a 10pc pay cut? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

THE COUNTY COUNCIL LINE

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said: “Under employment law, an employer cannot simply decide to reduce someone’s salary.

“Since the Chief Executive took up the post, Suffolk has been recognised as one of the most cost effective county councils in the country.”

That view was backed by cabinet member Guy McGregor who said: “I appreciate the appointment and the salary of the chief executive has attracted comment and controversy.

“But Suffolk is a very well-run council and has an exceptional leader of the paid service to implement very tough decisions that face us over the next few years.”

OTHER BIG EARNERS

Mrs Hill is not the only council chief in Mr Pickles’ sights.

Norfolk chief executive David White – a former chief executive of Suffolk Health Authority – earns �212,000 a year while both are trumped by Essex chief Joanna Killian who takes home �247,000 a year.

Part of that reflects the fact that she is also chief executive of Brentwood council. Brentwood’s MP is Mr Pickles!

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