As Evolve Politics recently reported, local Government budgets are at breaking point. En masse, councils are on track to see central Government funding fall 77% by 2020. Tory austerity has wrought pain on central Government budgets and those who depend on them. Yet, in Tory-held Suffolk County Council, they are contemplating a 26% pay rise for their senior staff.
West Suffolk is made up of Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, and the Tories represent a majority of councillors on both. Overall, Tory members make up 52 out of the 72 seats on both councils: 20 members out of the 27 for Forest Heath District Council and 32 out of 45 members on St Edmundsbury Borough Council.
The proposed pay rise for members of Suffolk County Council comes in the midst of reports of Suffolk County Council constituents being on the receiving end of a 5% hike in council tax as Tory cuts bite, and cuts of £24m being made to the council’s budget; such cuts being intended to continue for years to come.
The justification for such an immediately perverse decision? Supposedly to attract “high calibre employees“.
Ian Gallin, the joint Chief Executive for Suffolk County Council – whose job only arose as a result of ‘streamlining‘ management in the council in an effort at ‘costs saving’ – currently has his pay capped at an eye-watering £120,000, but will see it rise to £142,500 if the pay rise is voted through.
In addition, as the East Anglian Daily Times reported:
“The two directors – who are currently paid the maximum wage of £84,238, could see up to a 26% increase in their pay over time – ranging from £97,500 to begin with, to a six-figure sum of £106,895. The six assistant directors, currently also paid the band maximum of £73,208, could be looking at a 15% increase – with new salaries starting at £78,000 and capped at £85,000.”
Trevor Beckwith, the independent councillor for Moreton Hall ward, said the decision was indicative of the council’s approach of:
“We can afford what we want to afford, but we can’t afford what we don’t want to do.”
Tom Murray, who sits on the Bury St Edmunds Council, also had a few choice words about the proposals on Twitter:
If senior leaders at West Suffolk councils do not feel the outrage at the proposed system increases they frankly should resign so many folks held to small increases for them to accept 15%.17% & 27% is scandalous a slap in the face for tax payers & voter's yes reality sucks.
— Tom Murray (@clickboss1943) April 21, 2018
The fact that the 26% pay rise is even being considered by the members of Suffolk West County Council is obscene.
Local Governments have systematically seen their budgets cut; residents have seen their council tax rise as councils try all they can to offset the damage done by central Government cuts; libraries disappear, the elderly are left without carers, young people see their opportunities evaporate; and yet, in the Tory heartland of West Suffolk, senior members are contemplating rewarding themselves with a 26% pay rise.
Angry? The local elections are on the 3rd of May.