Pay packet for West Sussex County Council officials tops £1.3million

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Eleven officers at West Sussex County Council are earning a total of over £1.3m, the Observer can reveal.

In addition to the £175,000 salary of chief executive Kieran Stignant – £57,000 more than the Prime Minister – which the Observer has already highlighted, it has emerged a further ten officers are being paid more than £100,000: this includes three executive directors all earning more than £120,000.

The executive director for health and social care has a £150,000 pay cheque this year, while the executive directors for finance and performance and customers and change are both earning £126,431, with the top finance officer taking home an extra £5,000 responsibility allowance in the 2011 to 2012 financial year.

Under them, both the director of children’s services and the director of resources and performance are paid £120,000.

In addition the county fire officer is also on £120,000.

Three more directors – for communities and infrastructure, adult services and commercial services – earn £105,000, while the director of learning brings up the rear of the county council officer ‘rich list’ on £104,000.

FOI

But West Sussex County Council has hit out at criticism of these big pay packets from campaigners fighting cuts in services.

In April the Don’t Cut Us Out Campaign attacked the county council for slashing services.

Citing chief executive Mr Stignant’s pay packet, campaigners claimed he could also be in line for a £35,000 bonus this year.

The county council refused to comment on the so-called dossier when it was published.

Now, challenged by the Observer through the Freedom of Information Act to pinpoint the inaccuracies, they say there was never any chance of Mr Stignant receiving a bonus this year.

But they admit it could be considered in 2013-2014, although they add: “The leader has made clear a bonus of any amount would only be paid in the most exceptional of circumstances and in such a difficult financial climate it is extremely unlikely.”

Prime minister

Stung by comparisons to the prime minister’s salary, it was claimed David Cameron’s homes at Chequers and 10 Downing Street were not factored in and, the FOI response claimed, his pay ‘is not objectively linked to the value of his job or the need to recruit and retain individuals’.

Answering criticism over high salaries at the county council, the Freedom of Information response brought the Hutton report on fair pay in the public sector to its defence; they said high-quality public services needed high-calibre leaders to deliver them especially in difficult fiscal times.