30% pay rises for Caerphilly Council bosses

December 11, 2012 4:23 PM

Anthony O'Sullivan became chief executive of Caerphilly Council in late 2010. Although his annualised salary of £123,665 was around £8K lower than his predecessor's, he didn't seem to grumble that he was underpaid, although just before taking up his new job, he did write a confidential note recommending a £15K pay rise for his future deputy.

Writing confidential notes recommending pay rises for senior officers is something Mr O'Sullivan is skilled at, and earlier this year he was at it again. In a confidential report leaked to Wales Online, he recommended the adoption of a new pay banding structure that would result in pay rises of almost 30% for twenty senior officers.  Here is part of what he had to say: 

Chief officer pay has for some time been below the rates paid for comparable roles in other local authorities and public sector partners such as health. This makes retaining the best talent in this key group more difficult, particularly when set against the backdrop of having to achieve more with reduced resources as the organisation develops.

This has been demonstrated recently by the loss of our head of children’s services to a significantly smaller South Wales authority due to this lack of salary competitiveness. The appointment made leaves us circa £19k adrift of the salary being offered.


There then followed a 'behind closed doors meeting' of the senior remuneration committee on 5 September which approved those rises. Five councillors made the decision, however the remaining sixty-eight councillors were not informed of the rises. Some had to find out from disgruntled members of staff.

I'm sure Mr O'Sullivan would have us believe his plea for higher pay was purely for the benefit of Caerphilly residents. He wanted them to have the best, and only by awarding massive pay rises were local taxpayers going to retain the best. Even that argument on its own does not stack up, at a time when working in the public sector brings far better pay and conditions than in the real economy, it makes no sense to pay even more for roles that there are no shortage of applicants for. Of course, this plea on behalf of others also has fringe benefits. Whilst lower paid members of staff have seen their pay frozen for a number of years, it now looks like Mr O'Sullivan's salary has risen by £35K to £158,360.

Under this new agreement, one chief officer on around £71K appears to be now earning more than £99K. If they were to take early retirement after thirty years service, it would mean their pension would be almost £50K a year, rather than £36K. I'm not saying a raft of officers are about to retire, although we have come across similar stories before. In 2008, some senior officers in the East Riding of Yorkshire Council were awarded inflation busting pay rises because they were invaluable and the council had to pay more in order to retain their services. The same excuses about falling behind market rates were wheeled out. After they received their rises, one by one they took early retirement.

Don't be surprised if you read similar stories about Caerphilly Council in the not too distant future.

 

Anthony O'Sullivan became chief executive of Caerphilly Council in late 2010. Although his annualised salary of £123,665 was around £8K lower than his predecessor's, he didn't seem to grumble that he was underpaid, although just before taking up his new job, he did write a confidential note recommending a £15K pay rise for his future deputy.

Writing confidential notes recommending pay rises for senior officers is something Mr O'Sullivan is skilled at, and earlier this year he was at it again. In a confidential report leaked to Wales Online, he recommended the adoption of a new pay banding structure that would result in pay rises of almost 30% for twenty senior officers.  Here is part of what he had to say: 

Chief officer pay has for some time been below the rates paid for comparable roles in other local authorities and public sector partners such as health. This makes retaining the best talent in this key group more difficult, particularly when set against the backdrop of having to achieve more with reduced resources as the organisation develops.

This has been demonstrated recently by the loss of our head of children’s services to a significantly smaller South Wales authority due to this lack of salary competitiveness. The appointment made leaves us circa £19k adrift of the salary being offered.


There then followed a 'behind closed doors meeting' of the senior remuneration committee on 5 September which approved those rises. Five councillors made the decision, however the remaining sixty-eight councillors were not informed of the rises. Some had to find out from disgruntled members of staff.

I'm sure Mr O'Sullivan would have us believe his plea for higher pay was purely for the benefit of Caerphilly residents. He wanted them to have the best, and only by awarding massive pay rises were local taxpayers going to retain the best. Even that argument on its own does not stack up, at a time when working in the public sector brings far better pay and conditions than in the real economy, it makes no sense to pay even more for roles that there are no shortage of applicants for. Of course, this plea on behalf of others also has fringe benefits. Whilst lower paid members of staff have seen their pay frozen for a number of years, it now looks like Mr O'Sullivan's salary has risen by £35K to £158,360.

Under this new agreement, one chief officer on around £71K appears to be now earning more than £99K. If they were to take early retirement after thirty years service, it would mean their pension would be almost £50K a year, rather than £36K. I'm not saying a raft of officers are about to retire, although we have come across similar stories before. In 2008, some senior officers in the East Riding of Yorkshire Council were awarded inflation busting pay rises because they were invaluable and the council had to pay more in order to retain their services. The same excuses about falling behind market rates were wheeled out. After they received their rises, one by one they took early retirement.

Don't be surprised if you read similar stories about Caerphilly Council in the not too distant future.

 

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