Over the weekend some may have seen articles in the Mail and Telegraph about Councils, such as Kensington Chelsea, refusing to disclose details of staff earning over 58,200 a year. The paper misquoted Nottingham in order to link back to our refusal to declare expenditure over 500.
I think its important the Councils position is clarified and Im concerned that papers felt it appropriate to spin Nottingham into a story about something we already do. All based on the Councils response to a consultation, not on a policy statement. Councils must feel confident Government wont use their responses in consultations for political point scoring, exactly what Eric Pickles department has done here.
Nottingham City Council already publishes in the Statement of Accounts the number of employees earning more than 50,000; job title, name and pay of those earning more that 150,000 and job title and pay of those earning between 50,000 and 150,000. This openness about pay compares very favourably to private sector practice.
We do however believe its not wise to provide the name of the individual earning between 50,000 and 150,000. We think its reasonable to keep that private in order to protect staff from potential safety issues. Lets not forget only a small number of staff are paid at this level. Out of Nottingham City Councils 12,000 employees, only 130 are paid at this level (93 schools and 37 non-schools) which represents just under 2% of schools staff and 0.5% of non-schools staff.
The paper however used the story as a chance to recycle old stories about our refusal to publish all expenditure over 500. Our position remains unchanged, we will do so only when it becomes mandatory. The council currently publishes all expenditure over 25,000 and will soon lower this to include expenditure over 10,000. It also publishes all its FOI responses online. Publishing of data over 500 is a waste of money, is actually detrimental to transparency due to the sheer volume of such data making it harder to find useful information and is not in the spirit of localism.
The Audit Commission recently reported on the impact of fraud against Councils based on the information they had disclosed for amounts over 500. We think our focus must be on making the 20m worth of savings this year forced on us unfairly by national Government. Grant Shapps would do well not to spin detailed consultation responses to fit his anti-Nottingham agenda.
Article source: http://www.cllrjoncollins.co.uk/?p=239