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Scrutiny call-in as combined authority doubles staffing budget

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The overview and scrutiny committee for the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CA has called in its decision to double its annual staffing budget.

whiteley martin

James Palmer and Martin Whiteley

(L-R) Cambridgeshire & Peterborough mayor James Palmer and combined authority chief executive Martin Whiteley

The combined authority’s proposed staff structure would entail costs of £1.2m for 2017-18, an increase of £354,900 on original plans.

For 2018-19, the first full year all new staff are expected to be in post, the cost of staffing the authority would be £1.8m, an increase of £946,500 compared to earlier plans.

Papers due to go to the call-in meeting, scheduled for 16 August, say “the level of discussion at the combined authority meeting [about pay] was disappointing and the questioning not stringent enough”.

The eight member committee said the increase to the budget “means that the newly elected authority either set a budget that was far too lean or that it did not fully appreciate the tasks that have now apparently emerged.” It added that the salaries now proposed “appear to be too high” and claims the CA had carried out “insufficient investigation” into how roles could be shared with other organisations.

The combined authority has already appointed Martin Whiteley as chief executive (pictured, right, with mayor James Palmer). It is currently seeking to recruit to 17 permanent posts, including three senior directors to be paid between £105,000-£128,000.

Should the committee decide against the proposed budget, it will refer this back to the CA for reconsideration.

The CA may then confirm, amend or rescind the proposals.

Speaking to LGC Mr Palmer said: “[The scrutiny committee] wants to look at [the staff plan] and understand it more.

“Our staffing structure will be considerably less than others. I see us as a delivery body. The cost is going to be more than we expected, but it will be [fewer] than 20 staff. Others already have 40 members of staff. We’re trying to be very efficient down here.”

The combined authority has proposed the following staff structure and annual salaries: 

Directors of housing, skills, and transport and infrastructure (three posts): £105,000-£128,000 each

Assistant director (to the chief executive) for economic strategy and spatial planning: £50,000-£55,000 

Programme managers for housing, skills and transport (three posts): £55,000-£67,000 each

Finance director: £105,000-£128,000 

Monitoring officer: £105,000-£128,000 

Commissioning and contracts solicitor: £45,000-£50,000 

Legal officer (trainee): £25,000-£30,000 

Finance manager: £45,000-£50,000 

Finance officer (trainee): £25,000-£30,000 

Communication manager: £37,000-£50,000 

Executive support officer: £30,000-£35,000 

Two personal assistants: £20,000-£25,000 each

The mayor’s staff, paid from a separate budget:

Political assistant to the mayor: £34,986 

Private secretary to the mayor: £25,000-£30,000 

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • If this is indeed devolution, shouldn't there be a corresponding reduction in the management/staffing costs in the (central govt?) areas from where the powers/money have been devolved? How much was this? Or, is it always going to be cheaper and more efficient (tho maybe not more effective) to keep as much as possible centralised, and devolved authorities therefore will need to demonstrate clearly that increased effectiveness / better outcomes outweigh the additional management costs / worsened efficiency that they are incurring?

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