Critics have blasted Bristol City Council proposals to boost the pay of top bosses by up to 20 per cent as “inexcusable”.
Against a backdrop of ever-severe cuts to public services that is hitting libraries, parks, adult health care and more, the senior management reshuffle is proving controversial, as Tory councillors pledge to fight a change in salaries.
Under the proposals, the top three directors could each be on a pay band of up to £165,000 – exceeding than that of the former chief executive, Anna Klonowski – leading to accusations that the council bosses will be perceived as “fat cats milking the system”.
Announcing plans last week, Mayor Marvin Rees said the new, streamlined management structure that is currently under consultation could save up to £750,000 a year. It would see seven senior jobs axed.
But details of the new pay scales recommended by independent consultants Korn Ferry Hay Group, that propose increasing salaries of some top staff by as much as 20 per cent, have met with a backlash.
“These possible rises are neither excusable nor justifiable when front line services are being cut and more junior staff ranks only receive only a one per cent rise,” said Richard Eddy, a Bishopsworth councillor and the Conservative group’s human resources spokesman.
The council has defended the proposals, saying they have been set to help ensure fair salaries are offered to attract the “right calibre of talent” and that in practise, salaries will mostly be in the minimum to medium bracket, rather than maximum allowed.
Eddy continued: “In my view, there is no justification for thinking we can attract superior officers who can improve the level of our service to Bristolians by boosting their pay by this amount.
“Instead, we should be carefully scrutinising the individual performance management system to ensure the taxpayer gets the best value-for-money possible.
“The classic Labour approach of simply throwing money at a problem is not going to solve the fundamental issues of calibre and accountability which bedevils the council’s public services.”
The Korn Ferry Hay Group was commissioned to ensure the top three levels of management are “paid enough to recruit and retain effective leaders” and its recommendations will be debated at a HR committee meeting on Thursday, October 18.
The council confirmed feedback from the committee will be considered before a final decision on the senior management structure is made, following completion of the consultation.
In a statement, the council said: “The council’s draft pay policy sets out our salary structure and our commitment to being a Living Wage Foundation employer.
“Payment above the mid-point proposed is to be reserved for roles where there is clear evidence that the market rate is significantly higher than the mid-point. These salaries have been informed by advice and bench-marking from external pay specialists and they help ensure that we can offer fair salaries and attract the right calibre of talent.”
The draft pay policy which is refreshed every year will be considered by full council in November, when a vote will be held.