Why did Croydon CEO Jon Rouse take a £100k pay cut?

Amid all the hoopla of the £1 billion “Hammerfield” announcement this morning at Fairfield Halls, with the usual dollop of Boris buffoonery as the London Mayor proclaimed the marriage of the two property developers, there stood a figure who went virtually unmentioned in the congratulations.

Jon Rouse: feeling the strain?

Jon Rouse: feeling the strain?

Jon Rouse had been, until his resignation was made public less than a day earlier, the chief executive of Croydon Council and the man behind numerous town centre masterplans, all of which had been still-born on the drawing boards of Taberner House for want of any serious involvement from big business.

So today’s shopping centre announcement just makes the timing of Rouse’s departure from his £248,000 per year Croydon job all the more odd.

Overnight, we received reports from various sources within the council – both staff and councillors – who related how many officers were delighted at the news, others who are very wary of the possible interim replacement – deputy CEO Nathan Elvery – while some suggested that in recent months, Rouse had begun to show the strain of his job, that the 44-year-old’s health had begun to suffer, even that he no longer felt safe in Croydon.

Inside Croydon has also found that Rouse appears to be taking a pay drop of mor than £100,000 from his Croydon salary and pension pot to join the Department of Health.

Our loyal reader has found the archived civil service job ad for the “director general for social care, local government and care partnerships”, with a salary on offer of “circa £142,000” – some £106,000 less than the package Rouse was receiving from Croydon Council as one of the country’s top-paid local authority executives.

Indeed, Rouse’s total remunerations each year may have been a few thousand higher still, since it is possible that he would have received fees for serving as a returning officer at the each of the elections and referendums staged in the borough. And then there would have been his out-of-pocket and generous per diems, of course, for instance from when he was “roughing it” in the South of France on an annual junket, all on our behalf, and at our expense.

Now, though, Rouse faces a new challenge where he is no longer the top dog, but will be one of five grandly titled director generals at the Health department.

Interestingly, the job ad was posted on October 15, with a closing date of October 26. So when Rouse, through the council press office, issued an official denial to our questions about whether he was planning to leave, someone was deliberately being untruthful, and all paid for with public money. Lies on the rates. Nice.

Anyone who has been less-than-impressed with Rouse’s performance in his five-plus years in charge at Croydon might shudder just a little when they see how the job ad described his new responsibilities:

“This is an exciting opportunity to join the senior leadership team of the Department of Health. In a board level appointment reporting to the Permanent Secretary, the … Director General will lead on policy development in adult social care, working across central and local government, as well as with key stakeholders in the wider public, voluntary and private sectors. S/he will also oversee the development of strategies and policies to improve the health and wellbeing of those with the greatest needs, including children and young people, families and older people, and in respect of mental health and disability. The Director General will be supported by a core team of around 200 people based in both London and Leeds.”

And then, to anyone who may have had dealings with Rouse, comes the real zinger…

“The successful candidate should be able to demonstrate strong personal credibility in local government and adult social care.”

As Inside Croydon’s loyal reader noted yesterday, Croydon’s gain is the Department of Health’s loss.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
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4 Responses to Why did Croydon CEO Jon Rouse take a £100k pay cut?

  1. Arfur Towcrate says:

    Oh come on, give the man a break – put yourself in his shoes.

    Would you want to be CE of a council where you find yourself being forced to make cuts to essential services because you can’t raise Council Tax, your boss happens to be Mike Fisher, you have to put up with the likes of Phil Thomas and the town is losing jobs hand over fist? Not only that, you’re looking at a probable change in political fortunes next year – if Labour get elected in 2014, they might just want to appoint someone in their own mould rather than inherit a Tory appointee.

    Far better to make the choice to go on your own terms and become DG of a health body where you have a remit to get things done. Money isn’t everything and it doesn’t compensate for a crap job. Taking a pay cut to do something you really want to do is, in my view, something to be admired.

    I haven’t met Jon Rouse, so have no idea if he’s a total git or an unfairly maligned genius, but expecting him to make it clear in November that he was looking for a new job is just naive.

    As for the people in Taberner House who are now slagging him off, local government will always find room for people who are prepared to stab others in the back to advance their own personal agenda.

    Whatever, let’s hope Jon Rouse does a good job at the Department of Health – the clientele deserve no less – and that his successor can make Croydon a better place for all of us.

    • Rouse is clearly, then, an “unfairly maligned genius”. After all, look at the state of the borough and the council after his reign.

      It might be some time yet, when, finally, the veil of secrecy is removed from all the details of the £450m URV deal, before we get to judge Rouse’s real legacy in Croydon.

      And it is worth noting that the Coulsdon by-pass was funded and paid for by TfL when London had another mayor.

      • Arfur Towcrate says:

        You may be right. Perhaps it depends on whether the URV was his idea and he pushed it onto unwitting councillors who didn’t know what they were signing up to, or something other than that.

        Private Finance Initiatives are great for private financiers – not so sure about the benefits for the public. Like it or lump it, we’re collectively mortaged up to the hilt for local things like Bernard Weatherill House and the Coulsdon by-pass. Nationally, according to the Office for National Statistics last month, in today’s money, future PFI liabilities for UK taxpayers are £144bn.

  2. mraemiller says:

    It’s probably only a £60,000 pay cut in real terms after Mr Taxman’s 45%. I expect career carrots were offered and it is part of an attempt to lower the cost of local government. With central government making clear its dislike of local potentates who earn more than the PM …he may be jumping rather than waiting to be pushed. Maybe he just wanted a change.

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