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Senior officer pay at Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils could increase following independent review

Senior officers at Mid Suffolk and Babergh district councils could see their pay increase if the recommendations made in an independent review are rubber-stamped.

The review has recommended senior officer pay is increased to attract the best candidates and to keep salaries competitive.

However, some councillors in the opposition Green and Liberal Democrat group feel the pay of all levels of staff should be reviewed, not just senior roles.

Mid Suffolk District Council, Endeavour House (51220087)
Mid Suffolk District Council, Endeavour House (51220087)

The East of England Local Government Association (EELGA) carried out the review following a failed attempt to recruit to a new role and ahead of the retirement of the councils’ chief finance officer in early 2022.

Senior officer pay at the councils had not been reviewed since 2011.

EELGA assessed pay for similar roles in other local authorities and the complexities in Babergh and Mid Suffolk from having a single set of staff serving two councils.

Arthur Charvonia, chief executive of Mid Suffolk and Babergh district councils
Arthur Charvonia, chief executive of Mid Suffolk and Babergh district councils

The review recommends:

  • That the salary for assistant directors be set at £78,000 to £90,000.
  • A salary of £100,000-£120,000 for the strategic director
  • A salary of £140,000 to £160,000 for the chief executive
  • That delegated authority be granted to the corporate manager for human resources to make any consequential amendments to the current pay policy arising from the recommendations

The review said: “The current recruitment market is incredibly competitive. Given the changes in working practices during Covid, hybrid and agile working means staff can now choose to work almost anywhere and in any industry and this presents both opportunities and threats.

“There is the ability to recruit from across wider industry and geographical areas, but also the ability for existing staff to consider roles in other places too, without having to relocate. The two councils have a good record of recruiting staff when the salaries offered have been competitive and have been less successful when the salaries offered fall short of the market expectations. There is no doubt that salary will play a role when competing for top talent, especially within the public sector.

“There is an issue with the current pay and grading structure within the senior team.”

Andy Mellen, Green party councillor for Bacton, said the opposition Green and Liberal Democrat group acknowledged the difficulties Babergh/Mid-Suffolk had experienced recruiting senior staff and that pay levels might have fallen behind other councils.

"We have an excellent team of officers who have worked tirelessly through this difficult time and we want to be able to recruit, value and retain staff at all levels.

"However, there is some concern among opposition councillors about reviewing the pay levels of the most senior staff without also having a thorough review of remuneration at all levels," said Cllr Mellen.

Councillors will be asked to decide on the recommendations next week.

If approved, it will be the latest in a series of changes to the way the councils are run in the past four years, including removing the deputy chief executive and one strategic director roles, directly aligning all assistant directors to the councils’ priorities and reducing the number of corporate managers by six.

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