Six Isle of Wight Council officers have appeared in this year’s Town Hall Rich List published this week by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, double last year’s total.
Chief executive John Metcalfe heads the local list with a salary and pension package of £163,712 per annum. He is followed by Clare Tozer, director of adult social services, at £147,230, and Chris Ashman, director of regeneration, at £134,530. Clare Shand’s package of £129,030 in her role as director of corporate services also included a payment of £6,303 for her role as returning officer during elections. Director of neighbourhoods, Colin Rowland cost council tax payers £126,585, with assistant chief executive, Wendy Perera, at £120,477.
Last year only three Island posts appeared on the list, chief executive (£160,257), director of corporate services (£114,634) and assistant chief executive (£111,870).
Islanders also contributed to Hampshire officers on the Rich List who are contracted to provide services to the Isle of Wight Council, including £46,648 towards Steve Crocker, director of children’s services £180,556 package. Hampshire employ 16 officers whose package exceeds £100,000, but whose roles are undisclosed. They will include the chief fire officer, with Islanders contributing £29,550, and the director of public health (£46,000). Islanders also paid £61,713 towards Chris Ward, Portsmouth City Council’s director of finance and revenues package of £161,379.
Three ‘school-based employees’ also received packages between £100,000 and £135,000.
One staff member paid less than £150,000 had their contract terminated at a cost of £147,407, contributing to the £660,000 spent on termination payments.
The figures do not include consultants such as ‘JJ’ (Jay Jayasundara) who in 2019 was paid £130,000 for eight months work through his company Jasmine Consulting. He was employed to find savings in the Highway PFI contract he had himself negotiated.
The Treasury’s Public Sector Pay Policy report, published in January, says public sector pay packages are already seven per cent more generous than those in the private sector, and have not been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The news comes as Islanders face big hikes in council tax bills, which have risen by 4.99% this year. Public opinion data released alongside the Town Hall Rich List found the overwhelming majority of people oppose council tax increases by a 4-to-1 margin, with working class voters considerably more opposed.
This week former council leader and Our Island candidate, Jonathan Bacon, said: “We need to redesign and reshape the council. The current model simply doesn’t work. In the last four years we have seen council tax increase by 20% and charges for council services increase by 25%. A lot of the money we pay goes to support out of date management structures and unnecessary bureaucracy. Each year we have been required to give more and more money to the council and have received less and less in return.
“Council officers in the top 40 jobs take home salaries totalling £2,925,848. We need to ask if this money can be better spent on more pressing needs such as helping young people into employment, supporting mental health and assisting businesses to recover after the pandemic.”
All figures are from the last full financial year of 2019/20.