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LGC view 26 January 2012: Senior pay

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There has been much talk about the risks inherent in the sensational deletion of chief executive posts at a time when local government continues to face huge challenges.

Less has been said about the increasingly popular practice of promoting existing employees into vacant chief executive roles even though this also reduces the overall capacity of the management team.

The third LGC Salary Tracker shows that in the last six months 76% of chief executives appointed already worked at the council and, as a result, 88% of all appointees were taking their first stab at the role.

Our research runs up to the end of December and since then, separate announcements from North Hertfordshire DC and Hertfordshire CC rejecting external recruitment suggest we will see this trend continue when the fourth LGC Salary Tracker is compiled in six months time.

Our commentators are divided over whether limiting the candidate pool is a wise move – some believe the internal talent is there, while others worry appointments are being taken purely on the basis of money and at the risk of good management.

Capacity is certainly affected by this trend, as it will be in the chiefless model. Successful internal candidates are unlikely to see their former role filled, and in many cases the internal promotion come after or in the midst of a wider management restructure.

Everyone’s eyes may be glued to chief-less councils to see how they cope, but there is the potential for management capacity crises all around us.

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