PICKLES Eric smiling

Labour’s big theme in the election is that the Conservatives are on the side of the rich. Yet when it comes to the public sector it was Labour than protected a highly paid and extravagant elite. During this Government their ranks have thinned – whether among NHS managers, Quangocrats or Whitehall officials.

There has also been greater transparency and accountability in terms of the pay of local authority chief executives and other senior council bureaucrats.

Last month new guidance was issued regarding pay offs.

Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary says:

“My Department has previously sought the views of the local government sector on reforms to the legal minefield that can pressure councils into giving large pay offs to chief executives they want to dismiss.

Slow and costly bureaucracy requires councils to appoint a “designated independent person”, usually a Queen’s Counsel, to review dismissal and disciplinary cases for chief executives. Councils seeking to dismiss a chief executive for misconduct or poor performance have in some cases paid out inflated lump sums to avoid the cost of taking this bureaucratic route. Local government estimates the review process can cost at least £100,000 in legal fees, not counting independent investigation costs and salary for the suspended officer. One previous case cost £420,000 and took 16 months to adjudicate. Ministers believe decisions by full council ensure proper democratic accountability, without the need for a centrally dictated process.

“We are laying this week the associated secondary legislation which will reduce the unnecessary and costly bureaucratic process for councils to take decisions about disciplinary matters, including dismissal, of the most senior staff.

“They will require such decisions to be taken transparently by Full Council; and when making such a decision, require the council to consider any advice from a panel of independent persons. These are the independent persons appointed for the purposes of the members’ conduct regime under the Localism Act 2011, and, where possible, must be local government electors for the area concerned; there will be restrictions against paying inflated expenses for such advice.

“The reforms give councils the power to decide on the best disciplinary process that will deliver value for money for local taxpayers, whilst retaining independent scrutiny and accountability to local people.

“My Department will also be shortly be publishing guidance to local government on the use of severance agreements and on ‘off-payroll’ arrangements, reflecting reforms we have introduced at a Civil Service level to protect taxpayers’ interests.”

The Labour Government presided over an increase in Council Tax. This paid for an expanding layer of local government managers on six figure salaries. In other words it was a redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich. By standing up for Council Taxpayers the Conservatives have championed the interests of the poor.

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