Monday, April 6, 2009

Earn More Than The Prime Minister: The Brightest

As it became clear with AIG that you have to pay good money to keep the brightest people, news broke today that Britain also paid good money for people to run its local councils. Some are paid more than the Prime Minister.

In The Independent today:
Revealed: the town hall staff who earn more than the PM
1,000 are paid six-figure salaries – and 16 take home more than Brown himself
Andy McSmith, Monday, 6 April 2009

“The latest figures, extracted via hundreds of Freedom of Information requests sent to local councils by the Taxpayers' Alliance, will fuel suspicions that some sectors of the nation's workforce are having an easier time of it than others during the recession.

“Out of 469 councils contacted by the Taxpayers' Alliance, 55 did not reply at all.”

“Despite these obstructions, the survey revealed that at least eight local council executives were paid more than £200,000 in the financial year 2007-08, and at least another eight were better paid than Gordon Brown, whose salary is £194,250 a year. There are 115 council officials in the survey paid more than £150,000 a year, and 182 on more than the £137,579 paid to cabinet ministers.”

So perhaps the brightest went to local councils apart from those that went to AIG, RBS, HBOS and other banks.

“The biggest bonanza went to John Foster, who left as chief executive of Wakefield Council in March 2008, after receiving a pay packet of £545,000. A month later, he was appointed chief executive of Islington Council, in London.”

Later in The Independent it was revealed:

“During most of his five years as chief executive of Wakefield council, John Foster was seen as one of the best in the business. When he arrived, the council's organisation was rated as ‘poor’; before he left, it had been upgraded to ‘good’. In 2006, Wakefield won an award as Britain's ‘most improved’ council.”
Who was doing the upgrading?
“But in August and September 2007 it was hit by two scandals in quick succession. Six former care staff won awards totalling £1m after being sacked for whistleblowing, and then the council admitted failing children in its care who were sexually abused by a foster couple.”

In The Yorkshire Post:
“Six care workers sacked for revealing a shocking catalogue of mismanagement in children's homes to the Yorkshire Post have won a £1m settlement from Wakefield Council.”
“The raft of failings included children as young as 12 being allowed to engage in sexual relationships; child sex offenders being inappropriately placed in homes with highly vulnerable other children; a care worker buying and smoking drugs with children in his care; woefully inadequate training; and failures in staff criminal record checks.”
“At the time of the exposé Wakefield Council insisted it had acted appropriately and claimed the NSPCC had investigated the whistleblowers' concerns.“That claim was shot down in August last year when it was revealed – in an independent rep-ort to the Children's Rights Director – that the council had ‘perversely’ blocked the NSPCC from carrying out a full investigation.”

Read the full story
here and the abuse scandal here.

The Independent continued:
“Mr Foster announced then that he was leaving to pursue ‘other interests’, although he stayed in post until the end of the financial year in March 2008. He departed a wealthy man. He was paid £340,000 in what appears to have been a severance deal, on top of his £205,000 annual salary. In April, he obtained a new job, at roughly the same salary, in Islington, north London.”

Looks like it is the same “interests”.

Then later in The Independent:

“The highest salary paid to a council official, without any bonuses or other one-offs, was £225,000 paid to Peter Gilroy, chief executive of Kent County Council, which lost £50m it had invested in Icelandic banks.”
From the BBC:
Councils 'ignored Iceland risks'

“Seven English councils have been accused of ‘negligence’ for putting money into Icelandic banks days before they went bust last October.”

John Ransford, chief executive of the Local Government Association, defended the salaries.

"Many councils have bigger budgets than FTSE100 companies and to get the brightest people to deliver the best services for local people they need to pay a competitive wage."

Currently many university lecturers in the UK are paid less than one twentieth of what John Foster was.

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