PAY RISES given to Rotherham’s top-earning council officials at the height of the recession have been condemned by campaigners.
Figures released this week show that while workers across the borough were being asked to tighten their belts, Rotherham Borough Council’s former chief executive, Mike Cuff and two strategic directors at the local authority were handed pay rises of more than two per cent.
A report from the Taxpayers’ Alliance reveals that Mr Cuff was awarded a 2.5 per cent increase of almost £4,000 on his £159,000 salary in his last full year before retiring last summer.
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Council colleagues Tom Cray and Andrew Bedford—the strategic director of neighbourhoods and strategic director of finance respectively—were both given 2.4 per cent pay rises in 2008/9, taking them to £113,384 each.
Karl Battersby and Joyce Thacker were also put on a salary of more than £113,000 when they were appointed as strategic directors during that financial year.
All five of Rotherham’s top earners are included in the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s 2010
Town Hall Rich List, which names the 1,250 council officials nationally on salaries exceeding £100,000 and reveals that Mr Cuff was among 166 council workers across the country on more than £150,000.
The report said that 219 council bosses earned more than Cabinet ministers in 2008/9.
Despite their hefty pay packets, none of Rotherham’s best-paid officers came close to joining the 31 paid more than Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s £194,000 salary, with an unnamed departmental managing director at Kent Council topping the list with a £365,000 pay packet.
John O’Connell, policy analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, demanded that the best paid officials take a pay cut in the coming year.
He said: “Town Hall bosses have had a very good recession at taxpayers’ expense.
“More of them than ever are earning massive amounts, and they even enjoyed a healthy pay rise while everyone else was suffering pay freezes, cuts or redundancies.
“Now that most councils are in financial trouble, these senior managers must take serious pay cuts to help make ends meet."
The council’s chief executive, Martin Kimber, this week stood by the bumper pay packets paid to top officers.
“As a a metropolitan authority, we deliver about 700 different services to the people of Rotherham,” he said.
“Many of these are vital to their daily lives and they range from protecting vulnerable people, dealing with homelessness, providing education, right through to making sure people get their bins collected.
“To organise delivery of this wide and complex range of services in the most cost effective way it is absolutely vital we are able to attract and retain a highly skilled management team.
“We are responsible for managing a budget of over £250 million to deliver these services—a figure that dwarfs the turnover of even some of the largest private companies.”
He added: “However, people know money is getting tighter and we need to deliver even better services at less cost.
“This management team has a good record of doing this and have been recognised nationally for consistently achieving high levels of efficiency savings.
“We have also brought in millions of pounds to invest in services in the borough that would otherwise not have been available.
“This drive to make further savings, while maintaining the very many good services we provide for Rotherham people, will continue.”