We have a situation where the Chief Executive of Staffs Moorlands District Council is paid £151,000 a higher rate than does the Prime Minister. I would have thought that there was a considerable difference between the responsibilities between someone who has the key to our nuclear deterrent and a CEO who runs a middling local authority even if you throw High Peak Council in?
But what of fairness? Fairness is a phrase that it banded around nowadays. We live in a town where lack of fairness is evident all around us. I was talking at a local supermarket to a woman who works in catering at the local Council serving refreshments to officers and Councillors and it is likely that her job will go. She bemoaning that it is always this on the lowest incomes who take the bullet when the cuts take place. She told me her husband lost his job last year.
I should note that one of the objectives of the SMDC of which Mr Baker is the head is to secure a strong economy I am not sure a policy of job losses and cuts does anything to achieve that objective. Beside does anyone walking around the streets of our Moorland towns believe that we are going through a boom time?
The truth of the matter that we live in a time where the rate of senior officers pay is escalating and I am unconvinced that we are getting a bang for our buck. The example of Stoke Council illustrates this where the pay of the Chief Executive in the course of a few years has increased from £120,000 to £198,000. I wish I could say that in paying executives a salary that dwarfs the average pay of North Staffordshire that we get quality. The Chief Executive of the local regeneration agency was paid a huge amount and yet the impact of RENEW on the local area has been nothing short of disastrous as anyone who travels through Hanley and Middleport will testify.
Similarly both the Vice Chancellors of the local Universities get salaries of over £240,000 despite the difference in size.
Pay in the public sector is now in the spotlight following the recent publication of a report by economist Will Hutton recommends a ratio of 20:1 between the highest paid and the lowest paid in a local authority.
So why choose 20:1? According to Hutton, because that’s the ratio that David Cameron suggested to him which might explain why, while appearing to do something about the obscenely excessive pay at the top, it actually achieves little. The national minimum wage is currently £5.93 an hour, so assuming a 37-hour week a 20:1 ratio works out at £228,186 or £4,388 a week, as opposed to bottom pay at £219 a week. If public sector top pay is widely resented as already much too high, we should lower the bar substantially below current excesses.
A reasonable compromise might be 12:1. That would still give a top executive £136,912 a year, or £2,633 a week, which most people would think more than adequate.