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Southwark Council answers to claims it spent more on execs’ salaries than any UK authority

Southwark Council has rejected claims that it spends more on senior officers’ pay than any other council in the UK.

Data collated from councils’ 2014-2016 accounts by The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) found that Southwark had 44 staff who received over £100,000 during the year 2015-16, while similar London boroughs had far fewer.

Wandsworth Council had 31 staff who earned in excess of £100,000. Camden had nineteen, while Lewisham had eight, and neighbouring Lambeth had just five.

But Southwark Council leader Peter John told the News the high figures were actually due to the number of redundancy payments the council made that year.

Cllr John said: “The figures look stark compared to some other boroughs because we’ve been particularly brutal in removing senior managers in the last twelve months, in order to preserve staff on the front line.

“Twenty five of those 44 have actually left on redundancy payment, so we now have nineteen [who are on £100,000 salaries].

“It’s a process that can cost more in the short term while we have to include redundancy payment.

“When you have less money from central government, you have to make savings. When you go to residents how we should make savings, they will say it should be from back office.”

The TAP’s ‘Town Hall Rich List’ report also compared UK councils on how many top officers were earning more than £150,000 per year. For Southwark, those staff include:

  • Duncan Whitfield, strategic director of finance and governance – £185,490
  • Eleanor Kelly, Southwark Council’s chief executive – £216,236
  • Gerri Scott, director of housing and community service – £191,658
  • Deborah Collins, strategic director of environment and leisure – £191,658

Whereas Lambeth Council had seven, Islington had just two, and Wandsworth had eighteen. Kent County Council had eight, and Glasgow City Council had fourteen staff on £150,000 or more.

Commenting on their research, a TAP spokesperson said: “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 the number of people on six-figure deals actually going up since last year.”

Councillor Anood Al-Samerai, leader of the Liberal Democrat Group in Southwark, said: “At a time when key services are being cut and council tax hiked up, it astonishes me that Labour run Southwark can splash out on bolstered pay packages for council directors.”

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