Row over £100,000+ salaries at Sunderland City Council

Sunderland Civic Centre.
Sunderland Civic Centre.
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A war of words has broken out over pay levels at Sunderland City and Durham County Councils.

Campaign group The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) says the city council had 16 officers on remuneration packages worth more than £100,000 in the financial year 2013-14, while the county council had 24.

The council has questions on the alliance’s methods and a different figure of 11 staff. Because councils have major social and legal responsibilities, senior salaries, including pensions and benefits, can reflect this.

Coun Paul Watson

But city council leader Coun Paul Watson challenged the figures and the TPA’s calculations.

“The council has questions on the alliance’s methods and a different figure of 11 staff,” he said.

“Because councils have major social and legal responsibilities, senior salaries, including pensions and benefits, can reflect this.”

Durham County Council corporate director for resources Don McLure said: “Our management team was created when the council, the then-sixth largest single tier authority in England, was formed to replace the eight councils across County Durham – a move that saved £3million in senior management costs at the time.

“The salaries of senior managers and that of the chief executive were individually assessed in 2008, prior to the creation of the new council, by specialist, independent consultants to ensure that the levels of pay were equal to the responsibilities involved and in line with comparable senior executive pay.

“At the time, the chief executive’s salary was set at £200,000, the corporate directors at £140,000 and the assistant chief executive at £120,000.

“Since then senior executive pay has stayed at the same level, while the number of corporate directors has been reduced by 20% and the chief executive’s salary reduced by £15,000 a year.”

The Taxpayers’ Alliance describes its Town Hall Rich List as ‘the go-to guide for local government executive pay deals.’

Chief executive Jonathan Isaby said: “Local authorities that are providing more for less and delivering council tax cuts clearly have talented people at the helm, but taxpayers living in poorly performing areas will be furious at the scale of some of these massive pay awards.

“We all deserve to know how our money is being spent, and taxpayers should have the right to decide if they are getting value for their money from public servants.”