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Inside Out: on John Ransford’s pay cut

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The Inside Out coloumn is written by LGC’s Insider a chief execuctive at a single-tier council. Some aspects of the column are fictionalised to a degree to ensure anonymity, but all reflect the reality of life as the LGC Insider. For more, read his biography.

I don’t know what to think about John Ransford’s pay cut. Is it a cynical PR exercise by the LGA or has he been harassed by politicians to agree to such drastic action? Either way it is bad news.

We need to know the facts. If he is going to retire he will get no bungs/golden handshake. He will get what is set out in a statutory pension scheme. His pension pot is probably at the cap and his final salary will be the highest year over the last three years of his service. So no effect on his pension. Given the tax regime he will probably see little change in his monthly cash while he is still in the saddle. If all that is true it’s fair to conclude that it is another gambit in the senior pay campaign. I thought the LGA was a membership organisation to fight on our behalf not a propaganda arm of Pickles.

If it is a result of harassment then it is worse. It undermines us as leaders just at a time when we need trusted guides to navigate our organisations forward; not people who give into pressure.

I am talking to my senior colleagues and leader about us taking a voluntary pay cut, not to kow-tow to Pickles but to build goodwill and trust between senior officers, staff and residents. There is always a healthy tension there but in these unprecedented times we need to hand together or we will hang separately.

Two critical success factors can be damaged by this targeting of senior executives. First, the council team. It divides people by singling out senior pay and undermines initiatives like our voluntary pay cut. Secondly, it will take huge imagination, energy and verve from our senior executives to weather the current climate and protect the community and people we serve, especially the most vulnerable.  Chief executives are pretty tough individuals but this constant drip drip of undermining harassment is having an effect. We will lose talent from the sector and find it difficult to attract more. It also saps energy no matter how resilient you are.

So whatever the truth, it’s bad news.

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • Roger

    Well you would say all that wouldn't you!

    Sorry, but I remain firmly unconvinced by the constant comparisons between the public and private sector when it comes to the subject of senior management pay and especially chief executives. Even if you try to draw a parallel with a publically listed company that has a board of directors to answer to (the council's equivalent would be cabinet/full council). The comparison still does not stack up.

    Can a council CX make one bad decision that bankrupts the council and puts everybody out of a job overnight? No. Can a CX close down a dept on his own say so alone? No. Can a CX decide to realign the priorities of the council over the weekend and implement it on Monday morning? No.

    A bit simplistic I know, but using the smokescreen of making sure ‘that the level remuneration attracts the right calibre of candidate’, is just so much BS. The public sector recruitment process is effectively incestuous, with few if any outsiders being allowed to get a foot in the door unless by political dictate and these people seldom last.

    So let’s get real please. The original salary figure for this post was outlandish. The fact that the LGA even allowed it to become a subject for consideration, should be a source of embarrassment to all of us. Especially as we all begin the highly unpleasant task of reducing our workforces to fit the arbitrary grant settlement that has been imposed. This is the real bad news for us all.

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