Eric Pickles to give councillors top pay vote

Published on Wednesday, 16 February 2011 09:17
Posted by Scott Buckler

Local authorities in England planning to pay employees more than £100,000 will have to seek the approval of councillors in a vote, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has saidMr Pickles said this would ensure pay packets were "democracy proofed". The communities secretary intends to amend the Localism Bill which is being discussed in the Commons.

 

It comes as research showed 43% of council chiefs were paid more than £150,000 last year. Mr Pickles said councils needed to be sure they did not reward chief executives at a time of spending constraints, when they should be focusing on protecting front-line services, and did not take decisions "behind closed doors".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This is just part of the checks and balances so that it allows every councillor to consciously make a decision with regard to senior pay.

"It just seems to me to be a reasonable thing to do."

He denied suggestions by Steve Bullock, the mayor of Lewisham who is also on the Local Government Association, that the plan would include head teachers.

"Head teachers are not caught up in this because they are employed by the council," Mr Pickles said.

He argued local government jobs would have to be "democracy proofed before mega-salaries are paid out".


Transparency agenda

 

But Mr Bullock said: "We're in agreement on the need for full public transparency and scrutiny. I'm not sure a council debate - and I hate to say this, but I've sat through a lot of council debates and they're not necessarily the most edifying spectacle."

Mr Pickles went on to say the Localism Bill was "one of the most radical pieces of legislation to be debated in this chamber for decades".

"It is a triumph for democracy over bureaucracy that will fundamentally shake up the balance of power in this country."

As a result of the new measures, councils will have to prepare and publish a statement setting out the authority's policy on the remuneration arrangements of its chief officers.

Big bonuses and above-inflation annual pay rises could also have to be included.

When councils want to depart from their senior pay policy statement - which authorities will be required to follow when setting senior pay - they will need to refer back to the full council for a vote.

As part of the coalition's transparency agenda, councils have already been compelled to publish receipts for any expenditure over £500.

Last year Mr Pickles called for council chief executives earning more than £200,000 to take a 10% pay cut.

He urged those earning £150,000 - which is more than the Prime Minister's current salary of £142,000 - to take a 5% pay cut.

Source: ©BBC News

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