Jun 2011 22

How well is your council performing? Given the number of performance managers and change managers there are, they should be performing well. Councils tell us they need to bring in people from outside of their organisations to help them become more efficient. Then they tell us they need to pay salaries greater than the prime minister to attract the best. They want it both ways, and this week’s selection includes a variety of dubious jobs and inflated salaries.

Here’s your starter for ten. The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham requires a Group Manager – Policy and Performance. From the job advert we now know there is a new Corporate Policy and Public Affairs division, with a new Divisional Director, which signals a fresh emphasis on the importance of quality policy and performance support to Members in making key decisions. So what about all the other highly paid managers previously responsible for this? Are they surplus to requirements? Were they so poor at their jobs that the council felt the need to create a new division?

Non-Job of the WeekI have written before about public sector bodies using the employment agency Morgan Hunt. This is a nice little way for them to hide their identities so taxpayers don’t know the inflated salaries they are paying. Take this one: a growing regulatory body in the South East is looking to employ a temporary Procurement Manager. This job pays between £275-£325 a day. Similar jobs are being offered by Morgan Hunt, like the role of a Chief Press Officer for one of their government clients, paying £250-£300 a day. What troubles me, more than the salaries being paid, is the fact we don’t know which regulatory authority or government department is recruiting.  If the government wants true transparency, this is something it must address. This is our money being spent by government, and we have a right to know how it is being spent and by whom.

Thanks to a supporter, this week’s winner isn’t a non-job – it’s a non-contract awarded by the City of Westminster Council. The cabinet member responsible for Customer Services and Transformation awarded a contract to PWC to provide the council with transformation and change management consultancy support. This contract is worth up to £960K. I checked with the council yesterday to make sure councillors had called in this decision for scrutiny. They had not, and I was informed the contract is going ahead as planned.

It seems that all the senior officers earning six-figure salaries can’t do the job. Go on to the council’s website and you will find (excluding pension contributions) that the chief executive earns £200K, while the Director of Finance earns £185K. Westminster Council also has around twice the number of directors as most other comparable councils, and the total number of officers earning above £100K is an amazing 33! In total there are 169 officers earning over £60K, a salary which puts them in the equivalent senior civil service pay band.

Westminster, along with Wandsworth, continue to provide the lowest council tax bills in the country. Last year Westminster froze council tax, but so did other councils as a result of receiving a government grant. With the sheer amount of high earning officers, it should not be spending £960K on change management consultancy support. It should not be resting on its laurels, it should be looking at reducing council tax further.

Andrew was the TPA's National Grassroots Coordinator

  • hadenuff

    It’s more than inexcusable it’s damn well obscene, however, when it comes to ‘burning’ taxpayers money nobody will lift a finger to stop it.