Thursday, April 09, 2009

Council Pay Review 2009

Readers may recall that I was recently asked to lead the new council 'General Purposes Committee' and it met for the first time on Wednesday evening to debate the thorny question of the pay agreement for 2009.

You'll understand why, as Chair of the committee, it's difficult to make anything other than an official comment on its decisions and so I have added below, the press release from the council, which I hope clearly sums-up the reasoning behind last evening's decisions on our local public sector staff pay review:

Following changes to the council’s senior staffing structure, a move to ensure the council continues to provide excellent value for money for its residents, the committee agreed to a number of changes to the basic salary scales of the Corporate Management Team and to the proposed new pay awards for all staff at the council. This saw an agreement to a pay award of 0% for the Corporate Management Team, 1.75% for senior staff and 2% for all other staff.

Re-evaluation of pay was undertaken by an independent body, Hay (Hay Group Management Limited) in order to reflect the new level of responsibility and increased workloads on the council’s Corporate Management Team.

Over the last five years there has been a dramatic decrease in the size of the senior management team, which previously comprised of a Chief Executive, three Corporate Directors and 12 Heads of Service. The new team now retains the Chief Executive post but sees the creation of a Deputy Chief Executive, five new Directors and a Head of Legal and Democratic services. As a result of this review, the council has achieved savings of around £200,000 for senior management costs, adding to reductions of over £1.5m in the last five years.

Cllr. Simon Moores, Chair of the General Purposes Committee said:
“This is a difficult and sensitive time for all pay negotiations and the decision of the General Purposes Committee is a pragmatic one, delivering the lowest pay rises in Kent. This reflects the earlier agreement with the unions and staff at all levels of the organisation.

From the public’s point of view it is, I believe, important to note that the successful streamlining and restructuring of the council at its senior levels, has delivered a cost saving of £1.5 million over five years and £200,000 this year. This has been passed back to local tax payers as the lowest Council Tax increase by a district council in Kent. With these new roles, now performance-based and with greater responsibility than before, it was necessary to amend the pay structures in a manner that recognizes the many challenges and complex issues that exist here in Thanet and with them, equivalent levels of compensation, offered in other councils across Kent and the South-east.

The Audit Commission most recently revealed how much Thanet Council has improved, since a number of important structural changes to the organization have been made. Thanet was recently placed in top three of all the country's local authorities in the overall value for money awards and is regarded as the fastest improving authority in the UK. Presenting an attractive and competitive environment to those who are delivering such rapid improvements should remain a priority, while recognizing, as we have done, that increases in workforce pay reflect value-for-money and can only be modest and sensible in the prevailing economic conditions.”

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