Spotlight on £500-a-day council job

South Ribble Council Civic Centre, Leyland
South Ribble Council Civic Centre, Leyland
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Questions have been raised over why South Ribble Council is paying an “extortionate” amount for a temporary HR officer.

The authority has agreed to pay Tracy Boustead £500 a day for a six month period - a total of £73,600.

The council’s permanent HR director - who is on paid leave - is paid between £45,000 and £54,999 per annum.

In comparison, Preston Council pays between £61,812 and £72,114 to their director of corporate services, which as well as a HR function, also includes member, legal, financal and electoral services. According to payscale.com, the average salary of a HR director in England is £66,730.

One South Ribble councillor, who asked not to be named, said: “Five hundred pounds a day is an extortionate amount. Where is this all this money coming from?”

In this year’s budget it was announced the council was facing a deficit of £2.6m by 2019/20.

The council said it is paying the market rate and the introduction of such additional resources was recommended during a recent Peer Review.

Coun Paul Foster, leader of the Labour opposition, said: “You always pay more for short term contracts, but fundamentally, it’s a problem getting someone to want to work at South Ribble at the moment.

“This is the pounds and pence reality of what’s gone on in the past 12 months and of officers being trolled.”

The council has been in the spotlight for the past year over licensing failures.

Councillor Peter Mullineaux, leader of South Ribble Borough Council said: “The council has not replaced the head of HR.

“We have, however, taken on additional resources in order to assist the HR team at a time when they are under significant pressure.

“These resources are also helping to support the Chief Executive and other members of staff as we have taken on extra responsibilities and continue to improve after a very challenging 18-month period.

“It is important to note that the introduction of these additional resources was recommended during our recent Peer Review.

“We are paying the market rate for this service.”