I'm alright, Jackie!

June 03, 2011 2:43 PM

Prepare to enter (not for the first time, I hear you say) the bonkers world of public sector “business” models and remuneration policies.

In 2010, the Chief Executive of Newcastle College Group, Jackie Fisher, received an eye-watering pay package of £293,764 at a time when the College knew it was likely to have its government funding reduced.  This package included a Performance Bonus of £18,698 plus a Retention Award or, to give it its proper title, Even More Bonus, of £54,090. The result of all this was that the Chief Executive’s pay rose by more than 57% in three years.

In addition to Ms Fisher, in 2009 42 employees of Newcastle College Group earned more than £60,000 with an average of £88,528. This might also be a good point to consider the associated pension liabilities for this group who are presumably all on final salary schemes. The College’s Chair of Governors, Jamie Martin, justified Ms Fisher’s mammoth pay by saying: “Retaining committed and able people in the organisation has been crucial to our success at Newcastle College Group”

In early 2011, current financial reality finally caught up with the education sector and Newcastle College duly had its funding cut. It responded by axing 171 jobs, Ms Fisher commenting: “We are very disappointed by the planned reductions to education funding.”

So this “successful” organisation, with a Chief Executive on a salary which would grace the private sector, was completely unable to withstand a cut in government funding without getting rid of large numbers of staff, all paid a hell of a lot less than the fortunate few at the top.

We recently submitted a Freedom of Information request to Newcastle College which included the question: “If Ms Fisher is entitled to a bonus payment under the terms of her contract of employment, has Ms Fisher been asked at any stage by the College’s Directors or Governors to forego any or all of her bonus payment?”

The bizarre answer this question prompted is worth reproducing in full: “Any bonuses awarded to Dame Jackie Fisher are not contractual and recognise Dame Jackie’s exceptional performance. Dame Jackie has not been asked to forgo (sic) a bonus payment as it is not in her power to do so as it is not contractual. “

So, putting aside the fact that the second sentence doesn’t make sense, I think we get their drift . Basically, because the bonus is not in Ms Fisher’s contract, she can’t refuse to take it, although presumably the Governors could have decided that under the current financial circumstances they wouldn’t offer her one?

David Cameron has gone on record as saying “Basically we have a choice. We either have pay restraint or we are going to lose jobs.”

In the case of the top brass at Newcastle College, lack of pay restraint means the loss of other people’s jobs!

 Prepare to enter (not for the first time, I hear you say) the bonkers world of public sector “business” models and remuneration policies.

In 2010, the Chief Executive of Newcastle College Group, Jackie Fisher, received an eye-watering pay package of £293,764 at a time when the College knew it was likely to have its government funding reduced.  This package included a Performance Bonus of £18,698 plus a Retention Award or, to give it its proper title, Even More Bonus, of £54,090. The result of all this was that the Chief Executive’s pay rose by more than 57% in three years.

In addition to Ms Fisher, in 2009 42 employees of Newcastle College Group earned more than £60,000 with an average of £88,528. This might also be a good point to consider the associated pension liabilities for this group who are presumably all on final salary schemes. The College’s Chair of Governors, Jamie Martin, justified Ms Fisher’s mammoth pay by saying: “Retaining committed and able people in the organisation has been crucial to our success at Newcastle College Group”

In early 2011, current financial reality finally caught up with the education sector and Newcastle College duly had its funding cut. It responded by axing 171 jobs, Ms Fisher commenting: “We are very disappointed by the planned reductions to education funding.”

So this “successful” organisation, with a Chief Executive on a salary which would grace the private sector, was completely unable to withstand a cut in government funding without getting rid of large numbers of staff, all paid a hell of a lot less than the fortunate few at the top.

We recently submitted a Freedom of Information request to Newcastle College which included the question: “If Ms Fisher is entitled to a bonus payment under the terms of her contract of employment, has Ms Fisher been asked at any stage by the College’s Directors or Governors to forego any or all of her bonus payment?”

The bizarre answer this question prompted is worth reproducing in full: “Any bonuses awarded to Dame Jackie Fisher are not contractual and recognise Dame Jackie’s exceptional performance. Dame Jackie has not been asked to forgo (sic) a bonus payment as it is not in her power to do so as it is not contractual. “

So, putting aside the fact that the second sentence doesn’t make sense, I think we get their drift . Basically, because the bonus is not in Ms Fisher’s contract, she can’t refuse to take it, although presumably the Governors could have decided that under the current financial circumstances they wouldn’t offer her one?

David Cameron has gone on record as saying “Basically we have a choice. We either have pay restraint or we are going to lose jobs.”

In the case of the top brass at Newcastle College, lack of pay restraint means the loss of other people’s jobs!

 

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