A row has broken out over pay increases for senior officers at Enfield Council as the local authority comes under increasing financial pressure.
Members of opposition group Community First criticised hikes in pay that saw one top executive take nearly £200,000 in salary and pension contributions – up by 19 per cent year-on-year.
But an Enfield Council spokesperson hit back at the comments, denying there had a breach of pay policy and claiming the opposition group’s statements were “factually inaccurate” and “misleading”.
The pay increases are set out in the council’s draft statement of accounts for 2019-20. The document reveals one executive director took home £199,795 in taxable pay and pension contributions – up 19 per cent from £168,317 the previous year.
It also appears to show three senior officers received performance-related pay packets – even though the council abolished the policy in July 2018, the opposition group said.
Community First – a group of four councillors who quit the Labour Party earlier this year – said other officers received “generous” pension contributions of £26,910 and £13,438.
The opposition group claimed two of the pay packets were in breach of the council’s pay policy, which sets out salary bands for top officers – although salary is normally considered separately from pension contributions.
Community First also claimed the failure to provide details of the job titles and list of responsibilities of those staff earning in excess of £50,000 was an apparent breach of the Local Government Transparency Code – but the council said this information is available on its website.
Cllr Daniel Anderson (Community First, Southgate Green) said: “At a time when the council is making major cuts to key services, pleading poverty, and looking at likely increases in council tax, it is utterly unacceptable that the council is paying senior officers eye-watering salaries.”
Cllr Dino Lemonides (Community First, Chase) added: “One has to ask why (cabinet member for finance) Cllr Maguire has taken her eye off the ball and allowed these mouthwatering sums to be paid out in such a cavalier manner. It’s a total disgrace, and Enfield’s taxpayers are entitled to know how and why this has happened.”
An Enfield Council spokesperson said: “The allegations made by Community First in this press release are untrue, and much of the information provided is either factually inaccurate or presented in a misleading way. This is particularly disappointing, as the two quoted councillors were recent cabinet members who should be well aware of how Enfield Council’s pay policy works – in line with most other local authorities.
“Since 2017, Enfield Council has cut its senior management team and costs by a third (£1 million), at a time of unprecedented pressures and demands on local government. Enfield Council now has one of the smallest senior management teams in London in relation to the size and complexity of the borough.
“Enfield Council has a robust incremental pay structure in place and does not set basic percentage pay increases, which are negotiated for senior officers through the National Joint Council. There has been no breach of the council’s stringent pay policy.
“Furthermore, although Enfield Council offers membership of the Local Government Pension Scheme to all its employees, it is up to individual officers if they take up this membership. If individuals do opt into the pension scheme, the amount payable by the council as an employer’s contribution is calculated once every three years by the fund’s actuaries and approved by the Pension Policy and Investment Committee.
“Despite claims to the contrary by Community First, information on the senior management structure, salary levels over £50,000, and a list of responsibilities are posted on our website under the transparency menu: https://new.enfield.gov.uk/services/your-council/what-we-spend-and-how-we-spend-it/
“At a time when all officers at Enfield Council are pulling together to try and help and protect the community during this national crisis, as well as continuing to deliver the services our residents rely on despite increasing pressures and reducing resources, such a misleading and inaccurate attack by experienced councillors is extremely disappointing.”
Council leader Cllr Nesil Caliskan (Labour, Jubilee) accused Community First of showing “disdain” towards “hardworking officers”, claiming the group’s press statement was “littered with inaccurate information”. She added that “the achievements of hardworking senior public servants should be celebrated, not attacked”.