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Calls for council tax freeze as Hampshire council employees earning over £100,000 revealed

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Calls for council tax freeze as Hampshire council employees earning over £100,000 revealed

Published by Local Democracy Reporter Maria Zaccaro at 12:35pm 17th April 2020.

Watchdogs are calling for a freeze on council tax as figures revealed that dozens of council employees across Hampshire earned more than £100,000 in a year.

More than 30 senior council officers across the county earned more than £100,000 in 2018/19, with four Hampshire County Council employees pocketing more than £150,000, the TaxPayers’ Alliance annual report has revealed.

The group is now calling for council tax to be frozen and councils’ spending to be focused on frontline services as the country continues to battle the coronavirus crisis.

It comes as a number of Hampshire residents will see a rise in council tax this month as some local authorities have increased their percepts.

Hampshire County Council is among those, as in February civic chiefs agreed a 3.99% increase in the county council’s council tax precept for next year, although they stressed that 2% of the increase will go towards social care services.

The new figures have now revealed that 16 county council employees were paid more than £100,000 in 2018/19.

Among those there were chief executive John Coughlan with £220,518; deputy chief executive and director of corporate resources Carolyn Williamson with £187,700 as well as director of adults’ health and care Graham Allen and director of children’s services Steve Crocker who both earned 156,075.

They were followed by the director of economy, transport and environment with £147,678 and the director of transformation and governance/deputy director of adults’ health and care with £133,988 – but their names were not disclosed.

Meanwhile, the director of community, culture and business services earned £104,804 while the assistant chief executive earned £100,929.

Eight other staff members, whose names and roles were not revealed, received a salary between £137,500 and £102,500.

But overall the number of county council employees who made it to the list went from 18 in 2017/18 to 16 in 2018/19.

Meanwhile, ten Southampton City Council employees also earned more than £100,000 in 2018/19.

According to the new list, the highest salary (£147,500) went to an employee whose role and name have not been disclosed.

That was followed by Hilary Brooks, the service director for children and families with £118,933; Richard Ivory, service director legal and governance with £113,399; Richard Crouch, acting chief executive with £113,428 and Jason Horsley, joint director of public health with £105,557.

Five other staff members, whose names and roles were not revealed, received a salary between £127,500 and £107,500.

Three Test Valley Borough Council employees were also on the list, including its chief executive Roger Tetstall who received £124,000 for its salary and £8,000 as expenses.

A number of Winchester City Council employees was also on the list, including the chief executive with £ 114,000 and two employees who earned £137,500 and £117,500 although their names and roles were not disclosed.

Eastleigh Borough Council chief executive Nick Tustian was also on the list with £112,432 while the New Forest District Council chief executive received £117,407.

Three employees from Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council were also on the list, including the executive director of borough development and deputy chief executive (£186,503), the head of law and governance (Monitoring Officer) with £ 188,623 and the chief executive with £146,196, but their names were not disclosed.

Also on the list was Rushmoor Borough Council chief executive with £126,530 and an employee from East Hampshire District Council with £137,500 but name and role were not revealed.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the country needs every council to cut out waste and prioritise key services.

He added: “There are plenty of talented people in local authorities who are focused on delivering more for less, but that is needed across the board. These figures should shine a light on the town hall bosses who’ve got it right, but also allow taxpayers to hold to account those who aren’t delivering value for money at this critical time.” 

A spokesperson for the county council  added: “Hampshire County Council is one of the largest and most effective public sector organisations in the country with a turnover of £2 billion per year, employing over 10,000 people directly and many more indirectly, who deliver a wide range of complex and essential services. We need to recruit and retain the best senior officers but in doing so we constantly ensure that our rates of pay are competitive, but sustainable.”

The council said 2% of the council tax increase will go towards social services and added: “The county council is working with district and borough councils on flexibility of council tax payments for individual households during the Coronavirus outbreak, ensuring that this does not impact on the County Council’s critical cashflow at a time of major duress, especially with our immediate social care responsibilities.”

In a statement Winchester City Council said: “Winchester City Council does not comment on internal staffing matters, including those relating to pay. However, the figures produced by the Tax Payers Alliance do not fully accord with those in the councils published statements.”

Councils in Eastleigh, Southampton, the New Forest and Test Valley have been approached for comment.