HORSHAM District Council has defended itself against claims that it was paying more officers over £100,000 pa than any other district authority in the county.
The figures, issued by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, were historic and related primarily to redundancy payments.
Deputy Leader Roger Arthur said: “HDC’s net expenditure per head of population, is the second lowest the 201 District Councils in the UK, notwithstanding that its Government grant allocation per capita, is one of the meanest.
“Over the past five years, HDC has reduced its costs by around £7m, allowing council tax increases to be limited. That is despite reductions totalling about £1.5m pa (28%) in Government grant in the past two years alone.
“During that time, staff numbers have been reduced by over 100.“
He said that the council can only continue to deliver such significant improvements, if it has people of the right calibre.
“Notwithstanding that, an HDC corporate restructure in 09/10 reduced the senior management team from 12 Heads of Service to eight Heads of Service. As a result of redundancy payments associated with the restructure, in 09/10, eight officers received more than £100k pa each, whereas in 08/09 and in the 10/11, three officers received over £100k pa.
“In the last year Horsham District Council has further reduced the number of Directors from three to two and has replaced an expensive Director with a more cost effective solution.
“Whilst staff pay has been frozen for around three years and pension benefits have been reduced, they continue to perform and to improve productivity. In many instances, they more than cover their own salary costs, through direct income or due to grants.
“The fact is that some councils have innovated faster than others and HDC is in the top echelon in a number of respects, including the fact that council tax is one of the lowest in the UK and Horsham District is one of the safest places in which to live.”
Although these claims of ‘excessive pay’ were republished this week, the County Times covered them, in context, fully at the time.