Exit packages cost the county council millions as big earners revealed

LANCASHIRE County Council’s current big earners have been revealed at a time when County Hall is facing savage cuts in funding.

Jo Turton, Chief Executive of Lancashire County Council.
Jo Turton, Chief Executive of Lancashire County Council.

Chief executive Jo Turton gets the most money, with a salary of £170,000 a year in 2014/15 plus £5,848 travel benefits in kind and pension contributions of £21,420.

The County Council also paid £9,000 relocation costs after she took up the top post. She was appointed interim chief executive in August 2013 becoming chief executive in February last year.

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Former Chief Executive Phil Halsall held the council’s top job until October 2013 on an annual salary of £194,655 - a figure which included payment in lieu of three months’ notice. His total remuneration, including pension contributions of £21,688, was a lower £186,992, because he did not work for the full financial year. H

Photo Ian Robinson Preston landmarks County Hall

He had been suspended in August that year following allegations over tendering followed by a disciplinary investigation and left his post “by mutual consent” in the October. Several other staff are listed as having been on top salaries in the band £50,000-£125,000 in 2014/15.

The council says it is saving £11.4m a year after staffing cuts in its first phase of “transformation” when more than a quarter of senior managers left. The reductions - from 753 to 596 posts, were made between November 2014 and March 2015. A spokesman said: “As it was disproportionately aimed at the more senior managers the reduction reduced salary costs for those managers by 38 per cent.”

In all exit packages for 1,008 workers who have left the council, most voluntarily, with just 22 compulsory redundancies, have cost the council £30.7M.

The county council noted that the “exit package” figures were the full costs to the council.

The amount received by each employee was only part of the final figure.

Reports to the council’s audit and governance committee revealed the highest cost for a worker leaving the council cost £406,000, the next £258,000, while the 596 departures in the up-to-£20,000 salary band cost the council £5.2M.

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With goodbyes said to 192 staff in the salary belt £20,000-£40,000, that was another £5.2m. Costs of £2.6m hit for the higher 55 earners who left in the £40-£60,000 bracket.

Some 41 had been earning between £80,000 and £100,000, 55 up to £150,000, 15 up to £200,000 and four between £200,000 and £250,000.

**The Council’s voluntary redundancy scheme will operate until March 31, 2018. Payments have become less generous in the last year. Payments are available to those with at least two years of continuous service. In 2014-15 it was 1.6 and in the current financial year 1.4 times agreed salary levels up to a maximum number of weeks - 48 in 2014/15 and 42 in 2015/16.The agreed statutory entitlements were half a week’s pay for under 21s, one week’s pay for those aged 22-40 and one and a half weeks’ pay for those aged 41 and over.