18th Sep, 2018

Coventry council top earners still get over £2m - and one got £500k golden handshake

Felix Nobes 20th Apr, 2018 Updated: 20th Apr, 2018

FOURTEEN Coventry City Council unelected executives still receive six-figure remuneration – despite years of cuts, pay freezes and job losses.

Figures from the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) show the 14 senior council officers earned combined remuneration of around £2.3million – and one got a golden handshake of nearly £500,000.

The figures released are from the 2016/17 financial year.

Coventry council is forced to disclose the salaries of top earners of over £50,000, while the TPA highlights those over £100,000 at councils nationwide when extra remuneration is added to salaries, notably pension earnings and severance packages.

Coventry has the 14th highest number of executives with six-figure salaries of all 433 local authorities.

Former Coventry council executive director of resources, Chris West, earned a total remuneration of £586,335.

This included a £448,230 severance payment when he left his role to take early retirement.

This is the most expensive package administered by any council in the UK, according to TPA figures.

Chief executive Martin Reeves remains the highest overall earner with a total remuneration of around £230,000, including pension.

A total of 558 council employees nationally received remuneration in excess of £150,000.

Coventry council, as at other local authorities, has drastically cut its workforce in the last decade and insists it has cut senior management roles too, to deliver taxpayer savings.

However three new top earning executive roles were created in 2015.

Since 2010, it also claims to have frozen senior management salaries at a time of public sector pay freezes for all other council staff.

The figures are for paid officers only, as opposed to elected councillors, who receive a basic allowance of around £14,000.

A Coventry council spokesperson said: “The council is a large, complex organisation with many different statutory duties and responsibilities that make a huge difference to people’s lives.

“It is important that the right people with the right skills and experience are retained to deliver this important work.

“Senior pay is always decided by democratically elected councillors in an open and transparent way.”

With regards to Chris West’s severance package, the spokesperson said: “Chris West, left the council through early retirement as part of a restructure early in 2017.

“Mr West, who received a salary of £133,038 and £17,827 in employers’ pension contributions, received the standard redundancy terms offered to all employees.

“The business case for restructuring the resources directorate and the details of Chris West’s redundancy package were subject to extensive scrutiny and gained formal approval through the City Council’s Audit Committee.”

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TPA, said: “The average council tax bill has gone up by more than £900 over the last 20 years and spending has gone through the roof.

“Disappointingly, many local authorities are now responding to financial reality through further tax rises and reducing services rather than scaling back top pay.

“Despite many in the public sector facing a much-needed pay freeze to help bring the public finances under control, many town hall bosses are continuing to pocket huge remuneration packages, with staggering pay-outs for those leaving their jobs despite a £95,000 cap passed by the last government.

“There are talented people in the public sector who are trying to deliver more for less, but the sheer scale of these packages raise serious questions about efficiency and priorities. The government must also act to implement the exit payment cap that was passed in 2016.”

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