There are times when looking through job adverts you have more questions than answers. For example, Hackney Borough Council is looking for a new Senior Sustainability and Climate Change Officer. The salary on offer is £40,506 - £43,152. The job adverts says the successful applicant "will be a supervisor within the Council’s ‘Conservation, Urban Design and Sustainability’ Team responsible for sustainability and climate change tasks to enable the successful delivery of the Team’s business objectives."
This leads me to wonder how many supervisors there are in the Conservation, Urban Design and Sustainability Team, and indeed how many staff are employed, because the advert then goes on to say:
As a supervisor, you will be assisting the Team Manager in contributing to the physical, economic and social regeneration of the Borough. You will be responsible for ensuring planning permissions and resultant built development are of high quality and respond to climate change at a local level, and meet the policy objectives as set out by Government, the GLA and the local planning policy frameworks and related strategies.
So we now we know a Senior Sustainability and Climate Change Officer supervises other Sustainability and Climate Change Officers, and assists the Team Manager. No doubt the Team Manager assists the assistant head of service, who in turn assists the head of service, who in turn assists the director in charge! I could be wrong, however when you look at our latest report on local authority middle management pay, although it appears there has been a sizeable reduction in the numbers of officers earning above £50K, the devil is in the detail.
According to the council's accounts, in 2010-11, 449 employees earned above £50K a year, whereas in 2011-12, the figure reduced to 343. Out of those 343, 21 were included because they received redundancy and termination benefits (for 2010-11, the figure was 98). Removing those who took voluntary redundancy or whose posts were made redundant (many of whom will have earned much less than £50K a year), the total amount of employees whose basic salary was in excess of £50K a year in 2010-11 was 351, and in 2011-12 the figure was 322. Still a sizeable amount of people earning high salaries.
The lengths some councils will go to implement environmental policies differs wildly, but at a time when money is scarce, councils should be doing all they can to ensure they are not overstaffed. Employing climate change officers and still maintaining a high level of middle managers, is not the way to do it.