Council chief execs reject their £6,000+ pay offer as ‘pettiness’

Town Hall reporter KEN LEE on an outbreak of militancy among local authority workers who are paid upwards of £180,000 per year

How much?: council chiefs like Croydon’s Katherine Kerswell have dismissed a 3.5% pay offer

Could cash-strapped Croydon Council be about to be hit by a strike over pay and conditions by its “head of paid service”, Katherine Kerswell.

And would anyone notice if Kerswell did down tools?

Local authority chief executives, potentially including Croydon’s £192,474 per year CEO Kerswell as well as Sutton’s £220,626 salaried Helen Bailey, have rejected a “full and final” pay offer tabled by employers.

The pay packages for senior local authority executives tend to be negotiated nationally, through a joint negotiating committee.

ALACE – the Association of Local Authority Chief Executives, the council bosses’ union – has rejected a 3.5per cent pay increase for the 2023-2024 financial year, and says it will not accept any pay offer until negotiations with council staff generally are finalised.

ALACE says that the pay offer for council CEOs is lower than the 3.88per cent increase offered to their highest-paid staff.

Council staff generally have been offered a pay rise of at least £1,925 for 2023-2024, which is worth between 3.88per cent and 9.42per cent, depending on pay grade.

But council worker unions GMB and Unite have rejected this offer and are set to move to ballots on industrial action.

In Croydon, where at least 400, mostly lower-paid positions have been “erased” since Kerswell arrived to head the bankrupted council in late 2020, there are also rumblings of discontent and threatened industrial action over the latest round of redundancies.

Some lower-paid staff have been told to expect pay cuts of as much as £3,000 per year.

Meanwhile, high-salaried council managers are getting stroppy because they feel insulted by being offers a pay rise of a “mere” £6,000, or so.

Top pay: Helen Bailey, Sutton Council’s CEO, is on £220,626 according to most recent figures

Yesterday, in a letter to the joint negotiating committee of the national employers, Ian Miller, the ALACE secretary, said it was “exceptionally disappointing to receive an offer which, for the third year in succession, seeks to treat chief executives less well than the colleagues that they work with”.

Miller added his concern that the national employers “should think this pettiness of difference is an appropriate stance to take”.

ALACE claimed the offer is “clear and direct evidence that the employers place a lower value on the contribution of [the most senior] officers than the generality of local government staff”.

A spokesperson for the national employers said: “We have noted the response from ALACE and reaffirm their 3.5per cent offer as full and final.”

Inside Croydon has previously reported that Kerswell may be seeking a special deal with her council employers. Kerswell’s pay package was due for a review this spring, and sources at Croydon Town Hall suggest that she has sought support from another chief execs’ lobby group, SOLACE, and from the Local Government Association to see her pay brought into line with other council CEOs undertaking similar work.

This as Mayor Jason Perry (£82,000 per year pay) has hit residents with a 15per cent Council Tax rise and seeks to impose another £30million-worth of service cuts.

Kerswell’s council refused to provide details of salary payments to top-level executives as part of The Tax-Payers’ Alliance annual Town Hall Rich List published in April. So it has not (yet) been possible to determine with any certainty whether there are more council execs employed on salaries of £100,000 and more than the 29 Croydon staff on six-figure salaries in 2020-2021 – the last financial year when Jo “Negreedy” Negrini was doing the job Kerswell is paid for today.

Read more: Kerrr-ching! Kerswell reckons £192,000 per year not enough
Read more: Kerswell’s council keeps payments to top earners secret

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7 Responses to Council chief execs reject their £6,000+ pay offer as ‘pettiness’

  1. Ian Kierans says:

    Great! Sorry even £6000 was too much for abject silence and non performance.
    With Croydons downsizing in all areas how come the senior executives are exempt?

    This Council should re-advertise the role. Lets get real here. with the slimming down of the roles and services that the Council does, along with the total lack of any public accountability – then all levels of senior management should be regraded downwards starting at the top. After all they are de facto puppets for the Minister and apparantly have no real responsibility or authority – or are they?

    The whole organisation should be re-structured and salaries should decrease in line with the lowering of salary banding. There are 400+ less employee’s. Less direct reporting employee’s, less budgets to manage, less less less et al. so salaries should be lowered to reflect that slimming down

    CEOs have a habit of letting staff re-apply for their roles at sometimes serious reductions in salary and worse conditions.

    With Croydons downsizing in all areas how come the senior executives are exempt?

    Perry and co should ask Kerswell, Cheesbrough, Townsend and Isles to re-apply for their jobs. But keep that new housing head – she appars to actually be doing something beneficial.

    Where is the Information Commissioner and how come they are not following up on Kerswells non disclosure?

  2. Susan D says:

    Kerswell has attached herself like a limpet to Croydon.

    When the Council first went bust, after CEO Negrini was sacked, the Government put Kerswell in as a temporary CEO until a search for a new CEO could be completed.

    After a while, Kerswell thought she might apply for the permanent CEO role herself. The salary was good, nobody was pushing her to work too hard, lots of future possibilities to get a payout herself and it could be a nice little earner in the run-up to her retirement. Her husband has a similar gravy-train position in a London local authority – both of them are essentially at it – squeezing the public purse for self-gain.

    All of this would have worked were it not for one thing: Kerswell was spectacularly bad at her job.

    Everything she did went tits up – Croydon was the worst returning borough in the UK at the local elections – became a national news story and joke. She failed to publish the inquiry into Croydon Council’s collapse, sitting on it for years. She failed to prosecute or seek repayment of golden handshakes from those who bankrupted the council. She was awful at winding up Brick x Brick. She was lazy and slow in investigating ‘financial irregularities’ at Fairfield Halls. She was personally sued for racial discrimination by Croydon Council employees she tried to make redundant. She allowed back Heather Cheesebrough, Head of Planning, after she left the council (why??). She failed to sort out the planning department. She failed to deliver the essential services Croydon needed. She failed to improve education and secure much-needed funding for Croydon. She never replies to emails. She never answers letters. She doesn’t like the residents of Croydon. She’s hardly ever at her office.

    Even the Government who first put her in her temporary Croydon position wants her to shape up or ship out. They are pissed off with her.

    The only thing that is keeping her in her job is the bumbling local clown, Jason Perry.

    Kerswell will hang on in Croydon because she does not want to forgo compo or a payout of some kind.

    This is the state of our local government.

    Croydon is fucked until Kerswell is sacked.

  3. derekthrower says:

    As you imply if this bunch of overemenurated windbags (who have detached themselves further and further away from the actual provision of services and are more concerned in justifying themselves by the size of the budget they oversee) are missing in action. Who will notice if they are on strike? Perhaps we could dispense with their services and save local government a rather significant amount of money.

  4. derekthrower says:

    What absolute claptrap.You sound like a change specialist who will reward themselves richly for yet another pointless reorganisation without tackling the fundamental malaise in local government which is it’s governance. Kieran caught again looking down the wrong end of the telescope. Didn’t you support the establishment of the DeMoC?

  5. K Ramputh says:

    They should be sacked, absolutely disgusting and funding a pay that doesn’t reflect the services at all. I wonder why
    Croydon deteriorated over the years. I cannot believe someone having 6 figure pay while I’m struggling to meet end and working intensively to save peoples lives. And the bloody government doesn’t want to give a pay rise to healthcare workers.

  6. Damian says:

    If you can’t live on 200k a year at Kerswell’s age then she shouldn’t be in charge of a council that is bankrupt!

    Something is still terribly wrong at the council and it is still being run for the pockets of a few and not for the community that pays for it.

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