pay hike for council boss 'was transparent and met procedures'
decision to give the boss of Sedgemoor District Council a second
job and increase his salary from £115,000 to a reported
£139,000 came under scrutiny at a special meeting on Friday
District Council's Corporate Scrutiny Committee looked at the
decision to make Chief Executive Kerry Rickards also responsible
for the council's 4,200 properties and thereby add the
salary for that role to his pay.
additional role at Homes in Sedgemoor has given Mr Rickards, pictured,
a 20 per cent pay rise.
Brian Smedley, who chairs the Corporate Scrutiny Committee, said:
"The new figure is more than cabinet ministers and almost
equates to the Prime Minister on £142,000."
Mr Rickards, aged 59, who has been Chief Executive for 15 years,
has defended the move, saying it saves money as Sedgemoor is now
employing one person to do two jobs.
spokeswoman Claire Faun told Burnham-On-Sea.com after Friday's
meeting: "After two hours evidence and debate and questions,
the Committee agreed that all policies and procedures were followed
correctly in an open and transparent manner."
Friday's meeting, which was attended by five members of the public,
there were three main lines of enquiry addressed - the background
to the decision being taken to remunerate the Chief Executive
for fulfilling the role of Chief Executive of Homes in Sedgemoor;
the basis for the level of remuneration given; and the justification
for the decision in value-for-money terms.
attendees who were 'giving evidence' included Kerry Rickards and
also the original decision-makers - Cllr Duncan McGinty, Leader
of Council; Cllr Mrs Dawn Hill, Deputy Leader of Council; Cllr
Mick Lerry, Leader of the Labour Group.
leader explained the decision
Leader Duncan McGinty explained the process that led to him accepting
this was the right one. He explained that "the root cause
stemmed from problems with Homes In Sedgemoor which had been set
up in 2007. They had a responsibility to 65 members of staff,
4,200 tenants and had to manage a £14m turnover. In June
2015 there was a crisis following a vote of no confidence and
a spate of resignations." He had invited the Chief Executive
to step in to find a solution. "This was achieved by forming
a new top team from SDC staff and managing a restructuring which
saved almost £300,000. Since the new management had been
introduced, the performance was a lot better."
it came to explaining the salary, he was "aware that the
Chief Exec hadnt had a pay rise since 2009 and that if he
had received 2% a year that would have been £126,000."
He further compared the SDC Chief Execs salary with other
Chief Executives which ranged from £80,000 to £350,000
and said that he was "on the lower side".
said it "wasnt fair to compare Mr Rickards salary with
the Prime Minister who gets three houses and £128,000 in
expenses on top of his salary." He also stressed "the
additional responsibilities that the Chief Executives role brings,
not least being the landlord of 4,200 properties." He added
that it wasnt uncommon for the role of Chief Executive to
be shared across organisations and cited the Principal of Bridgwater
College who also had to manage Cannington, West Somerset and SCAT.
In conclusion he described the Chief Executive as providing "inspirational
leadership" with the results "speaking for themselves."
Since 2006, Homes In Sedgemoor has employed five Chief Executives
and in June 2015 a Vote of No Confidence was passed from the Sedgemoor
Tenants Voice in senior officers and Board Members, as we
Mick Lerry, leader of the Labour Group, concurred with much of
what the Tory leader said and explained his own rationale for
supporting the decision.
asked whether the HR policies had been followed and whether the
Union had been consulted and I was assured this was the case,"
further noted that the proposed solution did bring savings and
protected services, particularly in the face of the Government's
1% cut or reduction in the rent which leads to a loss of income
of £6.5 million for the next four years. I was also concerned
at the context of the decision which included possible moves to
joint working with other authorities including places like South
Somerset where they were operating without a Chief Executive,
in Mendip where they outsourced one, or in South Devon where two
districts shared one. I concluded that this new arrangement was
indeed value for money for Homes in Sedgemoor but Im not
so sure if it was for Sedgemoor District Council. I cant
say what affect this has on staff morale because high pay rises
never go down well with the public, but I believe theres
an acceptance that this is a huge saving."
chief defends the pay
Rickards told the meeting he is "happy to be here as his
pay was already in the public realm and nothing was secret. Sedgemoor's
performance since 2000 shows how great it is here."
added: "Its not down to one individual but to a fine
team. Weve improved in every area and I challenge anyone
to find an area in which we havent. We are in the top 10%
of Local Authorities and have £11-12m of reserves. Being
Chief Exec of Homes In Sedgemoor isnt an easy job. If it
was they wouldnt have gone through five in nine years. There
are staggering levels of responsibilities. There was an £80m
deficit and they needed someone to step forward."
background was in housing and in Walsall I was the principal finance
officer looking after a stock of 80,000 homes.. Thats why
the Leader asked me to take over and without meaning to blow my
own trumpet we are delivering a damn good service."
plain fact is Homes In Sedgemoor couldnt afford another
Chief Executive on the salary they were on. In terms of consultation,
every report goes to the Union and any comments can be forwarded
to the Exec. But there were no comments because it made absolute
councillors speak out at meeting
Mike Facey (Con, Burnham North) said: "I believe we have
a good leader, a professional Chief Executive and good staff.
I say carry on."
Bob Filmer (Con, Brent Knoll) said: "It seems to me that
in addressing the key lines of enquiry we should recognise that
the Panel have followed the correct procedures and the due process."
The meeting heard that the Chief Executive of SDC was asked to
take appropriate action last year and a new top team was appointed,
with a new structure. 14 posts were deleted and eight posts were
revised with remuneration uplifted. Six posts were created and
this, it was claimed, led to a net salary saving of £279,140.
meeting also heard there had been an overall reduction in Homes
in Sedgemoor management fees of £750,000. The performance
of Homes in Sedgemoor since July 2015 has seen 'non-decent homes'
go from 14% to 10%, while rent collected as a percentage of rent
due has gone from 94% to 99%. And the average number of days to
complete repairs has gone from 16 to 13, it was claimed.
With regards to the performance of the Chief Executive of SDC,
the meeting heard that staff numbers in 2000 were 870 and are
now 356. Net inward investment since 2000 has been £1.25
billion (with £650 million for housing and £600 million
for business investment). It was stated at the meeting that Sedgemoor
is one of the lowest cost authorities in the whole country.
The Chief Executive's salary in 2010/11 was £110,235 and
in 2015/16 is £132,282, with no pay rise since April 1st,
2009. If the Chief Executive had received a 2% pay rise for each
of the seven years, the gross salary would be £126,625 salary
of previous Homes In Sedgemoor Chief Executive - £90,000
plus £10,000 car allowance.
Looking at comparative Chief Executive salaries, the meeting heard
that most ALMO Chief Executives tend to range from £90,000
to £120,000. The Housing Association Chief Executive ranges
from £80,000 to £350,000, according to the National
Federation of ALMOs. Average District Council Chief Executive
Salaries range from £63,000 - £203,000 per annum,
according to Parliament.co.uk, Local Government CX Remuneration
In answering how the the uplifts in salary were determined, the
meeting was told that Homes in Sedgemoor, in seeking to significantly
reduce the senior management costs within the Homes in Sedgemoor
management fee, approved the deletion of the following posts from
the Homes in Sedgemoor establishment, with effect from 31st March
2016 - Chief Executive post, Director of Asset Management, Community
and Governance Manager post and one other.
meeting heard: "The restructure assigned additional responsibility
for certain Homes in Sedgemoor functions to existing posts within
Sedgemoor District Council. The responsibility for Chief Executive
duties for Homes in Sedgemoor have been assigned to the post of
Chief Executive for the Council and the Group Manager: Legal &
Procurement has been assigned responsibilities for the Company
Secretarial function for Homes in Sedgemoor, along with deputising
responsibilities for the Company Secretarial functions being assigned
to the Councils Legal Services Manager."
if the Council employees, to whom these responsibilities have
been assigned, did not agree to take them on in addition to their
existing roles, Homes in Sedgemoor would have no option but to
appoint someone else at significantly greater cost," the
council spokeswoman added.
salary uplifts, "In accordance with minute no 81 of the Executive
held on the 18th November 2015 the Leader, Deputy Leader and Leader
of the Opposition met on the 14th December 2015 and with the benefit
of financial advice and reference to the Staff Recognition and
Honoraria Scheme, determined the amounts payable as detailed here:
Joint Chief Executive 20% with effect from 14th September
key questions were asked regarding the pay of Mr Rickards, as
it acceptable that the Chief Executive gets paid almost as much
as the Prime Minister?
meeting was told: "As reported on the Independent Parliamentary
Standards Authority (IPSA) website, the Prime Minister's salary
is £142,000 (annual, including £67,060 MP's salary)."
addition to his salary the Prime Minister benefits from the following
- the use of three homes (10 or 11 Downing Street, Chequers, a
Country House in Buckinghamshire and a £1m Constituency
home in the Cotswolds). Expenses to cover staff, travel, equipment,
hotels and communications. In 2014 -15 this amounted to in excess
Chief Executives salary is comparable with Chief Executives
of similar sized Local Authorities, with similar levels of responsibility
for two organisations. Furthermore, by taking on the additional
role of Chief Executive of the ALMO a significant saving has been
made due to the removal of the ALMO Chief Executive post, which
was formerly paid at £90,000 pa + £10,000 car allowance."
the Chief Executive was appointed in 2000 he had responsibility
for Operational Housing at that time. When the ALMO was created
in 2006, he did not take a pay cut. Why is it acceptable that
he now gets a pay rise for resuming responsibility for Operational
the ALMO being created in 2006 (shadow form) the responsibility
for Sedgemoors housing stock (the Landlord function) was
always retained by Sedgemoor District Council. When the ALMO was
created the decision was taken to dispense with the Director of
Housing post within the Council, as this role would be carried
out by the ALMO. The pay rise given to the Chief Executive is
fair and is in recognition of the additional duties and responsibilities
associated with leading two separate Organisations."
did the Chief Executive find capacity to take on this additional
role, was his time not fully occupied before?
council quoted an Investors in People Assessor, Clive Tabbiner,
with his assessment of Sedgemoor District Council: "There
is clear evidence at Sedgemoor District Council that the Chief
Executive employs an approach of Inspirational Leadership.
The Chief Executive has a strong team of experienced Officers
in both Sedgemoor District Council and Homes in Sedgemoor which
allows him to oversee and lead on the many priorities and responsibilities
which come with being the Chief Executive of two organisations."
the meeting, Cllr Smedley said: "Getting this issue to Scrutiny
was very important. Members and the Public have a right to know
whats being decided in their name and why. Today we went
far beyond that and into the minds of the decision makers at great
length and in great detail. Theyve clearly and honestly
answered the questions , and explained the choices they made as
they saw them in the public interest. Thats what elected
representatives have to do. And thats the value of a scrutiny
committee and of an open democracy. People can make these decisions
but were watching them."