Welsh council to create two senior officer positions at a cost of £297,000
Rhiannon James, Local Democracy Reporter
Senior councillors have approved plans to create two senior officer positions at a cost of nearly £300,000.
The new roles at Caerphilly County Borough Council include a deputy chief executive and a deputy section 151 finance officer. Both would assist with work undertaken by the current statutory roles and cover leave.
At a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, October 19, chief executive Christina Harrhy said: “I’m not asking for new budget to support these roles but to re-purpose.”
The chief executive said the additional roles are needed for the council to achieve what’s being asked of it. She added that the current workforce is “tired, stretched, and depleted”.
The cost of a deputy chief executive is estimated at £189,000 and the cost of a deputy section 151 finance officer is £108,000.
A section section 151 officer has responsibility of accounts, any unlawful financial activity involving the authority, and balancing the budget.
Opposition leader, Cllr Lindsay Whittle, has criticised the appointment of two senior officers and their “fat salaries”. He said the money would be better spent on recruiting key frontline staff.
The Plaid Cymru councillor said: “The council has argued because of the economic crisis we are in an unprecedented time with rising costs and extra work required so the spending of £297,000 is justified. But frankly I can’t see the justification for putting two more officers on fat salaries. Our frontline staff also face unprecedented challenges as a result of the cost of living crisis.
“The council would be far better paying higher wages to attract these type of workers rather than huge salaries to recruit a couple of senior officers. The council seems to have forgotten the senior officers’ pay scandal and the big pay rises that lasted seven years.”
Cllr Whittle added: “There’s a massive cost of living crisis but Labour has got its priorities all wrong. If we have £300,000 available to spend then that should go on bringing in staff on the frontline to help those most in need. To do otherwise, suggests the council is out of touch with what is happening in the real world.”
Cabinet also agreed to create an internal recruitment team to tackle the recruitment and retention challenges it’s currently facing.
The recruitment team would market and promote the organisation to potential candidates, host local events, and use social media to market the council.
The total cost to secure the team of seven is expected to be £320,000.
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Who needs a value adding private sector when we have a flush public sector paying such juicy salaries?
So a Deputy Chief Executive at Caerphilly council costs significantly more than the Permanent Secretary at the Dept of Health in London, or the Ambassador to Washington (£180k and £160k maximum respectively). Without wishing to indulge in easy council-bashing, it would be interesting to know what justifies such a high salary.
The wording is “at a cost of” not “at a salary of”. The employer will have to pay 13.8% NIC and between 3 and 10% pension contributions. They may need a secretary or a car or be allocated a share of office costs, insurance etc etc. The salary could be as little as half what you think.
The ambassador has a car, driver, household staff, palatial home, all found, a chef and bodyguards so I guess his “at a cost of” runs closer to millions.