A 22% pay rise, plus winding-up expenses, jobs for the boys (and girl), resettlement grants and a very generous redundancy package means that one Croydon Conservative has never had it so good. And all at your expense, as WALTER CRONXITE reports
When Gavin Barwell was rejected by the voters of Croydon Central as their MP in June, what most will not have realised at the time was that they had just helped the former councillor and sometime junior minister to hit the jackpot – and all funded by the tax-payer.
For a start, Barwell was handed a salary of £140,000 per year by Prime Minister Theresa May when she took pity on his plight and gave him the job as chief of staff (“He can’t do any worse than the previous pair,” as someone might have remarked at the time, not realising Gav’s gaffe-prone reputation).
But Barwell’s generous rewards for the failure of his political career don’t end there.
Hired as the PM’s new chief of staff, Barwell is now travelling first class on the Tory Government’s gravy train, and he’s taking some of his closest chums in politics along for the ride, too.
The pay figures for the Government’s bloated squad of special advisers emerged last night, as it was revealed that May’s administration doesn’t practice what it preaches about the gender pay gap. Barwell and other men hired by Downing Street in special adviser roles are paid £15,000 a year more than women who did similar level jobs.
The Government employs 88 SPADs, special advisers – “temporary civil servants”, basically political appointees which the public has to pay for. For the financial year 2016-2017, according to Cabinet Office figures, this cost us £7.3million.
Barwell is one of two Downing Street staffers on £140,000 per year. The other is communications chief Robbie Gibb, who for many years oversaw BBC television’s political output.
But the document published yesterday by the Cabinet Office also reveals the pay packages for recent No10 employees from Croydon, who have been handed Whitehall jobs since Barwell got the top job and started a little spot of empire-building.
Nero Ughwujabo, plucked from the relative obscurity of Croydon’s BME Forum, has landed on his feet with a £72,000 per year job (plus exes, naturally), as May’s “special adviser on social justice, young people and opportunity”. It is thought that this job was never advertised.
And Mario Creatura, the Coulsdon councillor who previously worked as Barwell’s bag-carrier when he was an MP, finds himself in “PB2”, pay band 2, on between £53,000 and £70,000 per year. And all so that he can send out a couple of tweets each day that a favourable to the Prime Minister. It is thought that this job was never advertised.
Creatura’s Government salary is on top of the £18,000 a year he receives from Croydon Council as a councillor with “special responsibilities”.
Barwell’s Croydon crew in Whitehall is completed by Sara Bashford, the former manager of his constituency office who on the morning after the General Election found herself on the dole because her boss had lost his seat.
Bashford is employed by the Cabinet Office, though not as a SPAD, so she does not appear on the list published yesterday. Her new job is “politically restricted”, though, which saw her secretly resign as a councillor in Selsdon and Ballards ward, leaving the residents there served by two, rather than three, Conservative councillors for six months.
It is the taxpayers who are footing the hefty bill for the end of Barwell’s political career.
Until June Barwell was being paid the MP’s salary of £76,000, plus £33,000 as a minister of state (for housing).
That means that the day he got the call from Theresa May to become chief of staff, he was effectively handed a 22 per cent pay rise – handy to meet the rising school fees Barwell’s family is paying for their lad to attend his old school, Trinity (if they have to pay any fees at all, that is; Gav has always been very helpful to the Whitgift Foundation).
Not that the Barwells were in any danger of feeling the squeeze immediately.
For a start, there is the £5,298 Barwell has claimed for expenses, to pay-up the rent on his Wickham Road constituency office (now, suitably perhaps, a vape shop).
It’s not known whether Barwell claimed the full £6,500 tax-free “resettlement grant” available, or other monies which, according to parliamentary sources, are intended “to help former MPs with the costs of adjusting to life outside parliament”. Poor lambs.
Failed politicians benefit from surely one of the most generous redundo packages around. From 2015, the Tory Government introduced a “Loss of Office Payment”, though Barwell and his various colleagues who got booted out in 2017 could hardly have imagined they would be in need of it quite so soon.
According to parliamentary sources, this Tory payment for failure provides ex-MPs with double the statutory redundancy payment. Barwell’s payment is likely to have been based on his £109,000 minister’s salary, and seven years in parliament.
It looks like someone’s really hit the jackpot, and all at our expense.
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