This is how many staff earn over £100,000 at Lancashire County Council and Preston, Chorley and South Ribble councils

Another half a dozen senior staff at Lancashire County Council have been added to the list of the authority’s employees who earn more than £100,000 a year in pay and benefits.

Thursday, 7th April 2022, 4:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2022, 5:09 pm

Seventeen employees crossed that threshold during 2020/21 - up from 11 the previous year - according to data collected by the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA).

That has pushed the total bill for individuals receiving six-figure sums at County Hall from £1.64m to £2.35m in the space of 12 months.

The authority says that the salaries of its bosses are intended to ensure that the top roles at the organisation are filled by the best people.

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The salaries and benefits packages of the highest-earning staff at Lancashire's councils prompt an annual debate

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Chief executive and director of resources Angie Ridgwell was handed a basic salary of £222,000 for her dual responsibilities - up £6,000 from a year earlier. According to the TPA, she received no other benefits or pension contributions.

Ms. Ridgwell spent much of 2020/21 as “Gold Command” within the Lancashire Resilience Forum and was responsible for leading the county’s response to the pandemic. She took over the role during the summer after it was initially held by the then deputy chief constable of Lancashire Police, Terry Woods.

The county council’s three executive directors were next on the remuneration list. Education and children’s services boss Edwina Grant received almost £173,000 in basic pay - with no other perks or pension - while the head of adult services and health and wellbeing, Louise Taylor, and growth, environment and transport leader Stephen Young each got £146,000 in salary and almost £24,000 in pension.

Mr. Young left the authority last week to become the chief executive of Halton Council.

Director of public health Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi earned £130,000 and received a pension contribution of £18,000 during the year in which he became a familiar face in the media, fronting campaigns advising residents how to keep themselves and others as safe as possible during the Covid crisis.

His many new duties as a result of the pandemic also saw him dealing with outbreak management, local testing arrangements and advising politicians on issues including when schools should reopen after the first lockdown.

Meanwhile, the directors of strategy and performance, finance, and corporate services received £158,000, £129,000 and almost £127,000 respectively in total packages.

However, nine of the 17 people earning over £100,000 at the authority held positions which were “undisclosed” to the TPA for its annual Town Hall Rich List survey.

Responding to the wage figures, a spokesperson for Lancashire County Council said: "Senior officers’ pay is intended to reflect their responsibilities, skills, and experience and ensure the best people possible are in these key positions.

"This approach and the hard work of officers put the council in a good position to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, ensuring services continued to be delivered to residents despite the pandemic.

"It also means we are now in a very good place as the county continues its recovery to make the best of every opportunity open to the area."

At a district council level in Central Lancashire, there were far fewer six-figure earners. Preston City Council’s chief executive Adrian Phillips was the only staff member to get over £100,000 in basic pay - he received £101,000, plus £18,000 in pension.

The authority's director of communities and environment and director of development and housing were each handed £92,000 in salary, but were pushed over the £100,000 threshold by receiving £14,000 each in pension contributions.

A spokesperson for Preston City Council pointed out that the salaries of staff earning over £50,000 were all freely available on the authority’s website and in its published accounts.

They added: “We use evaluation schemes from the National Joint Council (NJC) and Joint National Committee (JNC) to determine employment terms and conditions for all local government staff, which includes our chief executive.

“Senior staff members hold a large amount of responsibility, and their salaries are benchmarked in line with similar roles in the public sector, yet earn less than similar senior positions in other employment sectors.

“In extraordinary times like those experienced during the ongoing pandemic and beyond, Preston City Council has been working hard at the frontline of supporting residents, businesses and the NHS. We are proud to provide such vital and good value-for-money services.”

Chorley and South Ribble borough councils shared a chief executive throughout 2020/21, with Chorley boss Gary Hall providing "interim" cover at the neighbouring authority througout that period, as he had done since May 2019. His post at South Ribble became a permanent shared role in January 2021.

According to the TPA data, he was paid £84,000 by Chorley Council during the financial year in question and also received £35,000 in what was described as "compensation", as well as a £14,000 pension contribution - a total package of £133,000.

The role of deputy chief exceutive across both Chorley and South Ribble attracted a £122,000 overall package - £17,000 of which was in pension payment.

Mr. Hall said that South Ribble and Chorley now share a senior leadership team - and nearly half of the overall workforce.

He added: "The senior staff costs are shared and halved for each council. This comes following the mutually agreed roll out of the innovative shared services programme which saves both councils significant money while adding additional resilience and expertise to both organisations."

Nationwide, the TPA found that almost 3,000 local authority staff received pay and benefits of over £100,000 in 2020/21 and 739 received more than £150,000 - both representing increases on the previous year.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TPA – which claims to “speak for ordinary taxpayers fed up with government waste [and] increasing taxation”, said that people “facing a cost of living crisis want to know that they are getting value for money from their local authority leadership”.

He added: “With households having suffered through the pandemic and now struggling under colossal tax bills, the country needs councils to prioritise key services without resorting to punishing tax hikes.

“These figures will allow residents to judge town hall bosses for themselves and hold their local councils to account.”