The high cost of hiring senior Council cost-cutters was brought into focus recently at North Somerset Council. Determined to find £92m of savings, the Council hired an interim Head of Finance and Property at a pro rata cost to the local taxpayer of £214,500—or £825 a day!
Julie Alderson has taken up this temporary post, which runs until March this year, at a rate that far outstrips the actual salary band of £84,010-£91,290 for the full time position.
"It feels as though money is no object at North Somerset Council—at least when it comes to senior salaries," says Council opposition leader, Mike Bell. "The council has to make millions of pounds worth of savings over the coming years and it is extraordinary that they are making an appointment, albeit temporarily, at a salary double the going rate. The £214,500 pro rata salary sees the interim post holder earning more than the Council Chief Executive and even the Prime Minister. What message does that send to staff and taxpayers?"
Funnily enough, this is the same Julie Alderson who caused a rumpus by running up a £4,800 expenses bill during her temporary appointment as Kirklees Council’s senior cost-cutter. Four months work there cost the taxpayer £10,000 a month, plus a bill for expenses which, according to Freedom of Information requests, included £1,950 for staying at an apartment complex with a swimming pool, gym and jacuzzi, £312.80 for parking costs and even £11.52 for light bulbs and batteries. She then moved on to Harrow Council for a six-month stint as interim corporate director of finance at a rate of £16,300 a month.
Bearing in mind the high cost to the taxpayer of these temporary appointments for short periods of time, surely it would be better for councils just to leave the post vacant until they can secure a full time appointee? Someone more cynical than I would suggest we wouldn't notice...
Tim Newark is the South West co-ordinator for the TaxPayers’ Alliance