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Bexley Council chiefs earn more than the Prime Minister

PUBLISHED: 11:53 24 September 2010

Deborah Absalom

Deborah Absalom

Archant

Shocking figures have revealed that four council directors earn more than the Prime Minister – including the head of a department that is facing cuts of £2 million.

Deborah Absalom, Director of Bexley council’s stricken Children and Young People’s Services was paid an annual salary of £165.181, according to figures obtained by the BBC and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism on Monday.

With added bonuses she takes home £178,892 – a staggering £30,000 more than the Prime Minister, the figures reveal.

Residents on the streets of Bexley demanded changes to pay structures and claimed money was being “creamed off” vital services.

Retired secretary Kath Amos, 86, Reswell Close, Sidcup, said: “It’s not right - I’ve had to take a pay cut on my pension for 12 months so they should too. This has to be sorted out as a lot of people think that these council staff are overpaid for the work and the hours that they do.”

The department Ms Absalom manages faces “considerable” job cuts as a £1.4million budget deficit is to be recouped in savings in Children and Young People’s Services, as reported in the Times.

But she is not the highest earner in the council, Chief Executive Will Tuckley’s total remuneration is a staggering £206, 439, earning a £60,000 wedge more than David Cameron.

Director of Social and Community Services, Mark Charters and Peter Ellershaw, Director of Environment and Regeneration, are also among top earners in the council with salaries ranging from £144,000 and £178.000.

Peter Coulter of the Bexley Pensioners Forum said: “My feeling about all these public sector appointments is that they are creaming off what they can while they can.

“Working people have every right to expect them to take a pay cut – £50,000 from their salaries would be just a token for them. Our pensions don’t go up while their salaries do.

“How anybody can be paid more £170,000 or more for a public job I don’t know. The job description must tell them to milk the kitty for as much as they can.”

Sue Williams, 57, administrator, of Upper Ruxley, Sidcup, said: “With the economic climate it is unreasonable. They should be seen to help do their bit as well as everyone else, we are all in this together.”

Mr Cameron and his cabinet took a five per cent pay cut when they came to office this year and he had inherited a reduced salary that Gordon Brown had taken in 2009, reducing it from £197,689 to £150,000. With the 2010 reduction, the Prime Minister now earns £142,500.

Bromley PCT Chief Executive, Simon Robbins, who headed up the A Picture of Health quango which formulated plans to close Sidcup’s A&E at Queen Mary’s Hospital, earned a total remuneration of £127,500.

Director of Finance Marie Farrell and Joint Public Health Director Dr Nada Lemic earned between £102,500 and £135,000 this year.

Iain Overton, editor at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, says the database - collated between February and September - was very relevant ahead of anticipated widespread public service job cuts.

A spokesperson for Bexley council said: “Bexley is among the country’s most successful and efficient councils. We need to attract and retain highly skilled and experienced staff from a range of professional disciplines, to provide our residents with the services they deserve.

“Our Chief Executive and Directors manage services for more than 220,000 residents and a total budget of around £0.5 billion. We are facing a period of major challenges for local councils and we need experienced and capable people to guide us through this period of change.

“Our senior officer salaries are generally a lot lower than those of similar roles in the private sector and in parts of the public sector such as the BBC. And they are set, taking advice from the recruitment and remuneration specialist Hay Group.

“We are currently reviewing all the council’s services and spending as a result of planned cuts in public spending. We anticipate the outcome will include reductions in our staffing and management costs.

South London Healthcare NHS Trust failed to comment on the figures but a spokesperson for Bromley PCT said: “We follow national pay guidance frameworks for all director’s pay.”

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