Hartlepool Borough Council chief responds to calls to review senior officers pay due to financial challenges

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The managing director of Hartlepool Borough Council is warning any reduction in senior officers’ salaries could risk triggering their departures.

Calls were made last month to review the amount senior council officers and councillors in Hartlepool are paid amid the "very difficult" budget challenges facing the authority.

An update is due to be presented at the authority’s finance and policy committee meeting on Monday, December 12.

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Observations on the issue have been prepared by Denise McGuckin, the council’s managing director, whose salary for this year is £156,800.

Hartlepool Borough Council managing director Denis McGuckin.Hartlepool Borough Council managing director Denis McGuckin.
Hartlepool Borough Council managing director Denis McGuckin.

Ms McGuckin states reducing the existing salaries of directors would increase the risk of them leaving.

She says any proposed changes to terms and conditions would require negotiation and that if an agreement could not be reached then the option to dismiss and re-engage could happen.

Ms McGuckin writes: “As head of paid service it is not an option I would recommend to council owing to the adverse impact on morale of the senior leadership team of the council and the high likelihood officers would look to secure roles with other councils.”

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Her report states that senior managers put in extra hours on weekends and evenings, adding: “This commitment and flexibility may be at risk if pay is reduced.”

The Finance and Policy Committee will meet on Monday, December 12.The Finance and Policy Committee will meet on Monday, December 12.
The Finance and Policy Committee will meet on Monday, December 12.
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The salary grade for managing directors has fallen from £163,000-£168,000 around 10 years ago and for directors has reduced from £130,000 in 2010-11 to £123,700 in 2022-3.

The report says the senior management structure of the council is appropriate for a council of its type and pay grades are generally slightly below those elsewhere in the Tees Valley.

Monday’s meeting will also look at managing a £9.75m budget deficit facing the council in the next two years.

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Council tax is set to go up again next year by up to 4.9% after the Chancellor increased it in his autumn statement.

It would provide an extra £940,000 a year for the council.

The authority was also asked to look at councillors’ allowances. Monday’s report states the council’s basic allowance of £8,330 is the fourth lowest in the North East.

If it and special responsibility allowances were set to the lowest level it would result in a saving of £34,000 a year.