People’s Audit Lambeth have issued their latest report on senior council salaries in the borough.
- Despite making 2,000 staff redundant the numbers of senior managers have increased – at an EXTRA annual cost of between £5.56 million and £6.66 million
- The number of council officers earning £50,000or more annually had increased from 208 to between 288 and 298 in the space of a year
- Senior management in Lambeth now makes up 11.42 per cent of the workforce, compared to 7.8pc in 2014.
- Lambeth’s claim that the increase in senior staff is almost exclusively due to an increase in schools staff would amount to a staggering 595 per cent increase in the number of senior schools staff.
The report details what People’s Audit Lambeth say are the attempts they have made to get some clear answers and highlight what they label “the culture of obfuscation that prevents proper scrutiny of Lambeth council’s spending.”
Senior Staff Salaries
“In January last year we published a report which highlighted that the number of senior staff in Lambeth had increased from 274 in 2006/2007 to 651 in 2016/2017, costing an additional £19 million a year, at a time when over 2,000 people had been made redundant. Note 3
“Lambeth’s response was that the large increase in senior salaries was almost exclusively due to an increase in senior schools staff, with pay rates set by schools’ governing bodies – not Lambeth council.
“In an email to Lambeth People’s Audit, Cllr Imogen Walker (then one of the council’s two deputy leaders) stated ‘Roughly two thirds of the figure you give is made up of schools staff; the number of Lambeth council staff earning over £50,000 has increased over a ten year period by a small number, from 212 to around 220.
‘The council also processes payroll as a service for many schools and 430 of the salaries you quote are schools staff. ‘These are obviously not new posts but largely accounted for by the salaries for lead practitioners in schools moving from just below £50,000 to just above over that over the ten year period.’ Note 4
“We did point out to Cllr Walker that the data in Lambeth’s accounts did not support the assertion she was making.
“According to Lambeth’s own accounts, the number of staff earning £50,000-£55,000 has increased from 148 in 2008/20091 to 227 in 2016/20175, an increase of 79, not the 430 claimed. “Whilst there are other complicating factors to take into account, such as redundancies, agency staff becoming employees and staff being outsourced, the scale of the difference between Cllr Walker’s claim and the figures in the accounts is so large as to be open to question.
“Despite this, Cllr Walker posted a statement on the Love Lambeth website repeating her claim that the increase in senior staff was almost exclusively due to an increase in senior schools staff. Note 6
“Then in February this year Lambeth Labour tweeted Note 7 and blogged Note 8 a response from Lambeth council’s FOI disclosure log, stating that the number of senior council officers in 2016/2017 was only 222 and that the balance of senior staff was made up of senior schools staff.
ANALYSING THE FOI RESPONSE: “EVEN A CURSORY REVIEW OF LAMBETH’S CLAIMS ABOUT STAFF COSTS MADE US SCEPTICAL”
People’s Audit Lambeth say the FOI response which Lambeth Labour Tweeted revealed the following data about staff earning over £50,000 in 2016/2017:
Council officers: 222 Schools staff for which Lambeth carries out payroll 281 Schools staff for which Lambeth doesn’t carry our payroll 140 Total 6432
“Even a cursory review of Lambeth’s claims about staff costs made us skeptical” say People’s Audit Lambeth in their report. “If Lambeth’s claim that the number of council staff had only increased from 212 to 222 between 2006/2007 and 2016/2017 were correct then this would mean that the number of senior school staff had increased from 62 in 2006/2007 to 431 in 2016/2017, an increase of 595 per cent. Note 9
“Given that the number of schools in Lambeth in 2007 was 84, Note 10 it is hardly credible that there were only 62 senior school staff at that time.
“In 2007 the minimum pay scale for a head teacher in Inner London was between £48,135 and £63,771, based on class size, rising to a maximum of £104,628.11.
“We then checked to see if the increase in the number of senior schools staff claimed by Lambeth could be due to an increase in the number of schools. “The number of schools in Lambeth has increased from 84 in 200712 to 92 by 2017. Note 13 “But it should be borne in mind that six of the additional schools are new academy schools, Note 14 which are funded by central government rather than Lambeth. Note 15
“In addition, five existing schools have converted to academies since 2007, although two of them still have their payroll administered by Lambeth. Note 16 “The nett effect is that Lambeth are now responsible for one less school than they were in 2007.”
The annual accounts from 2017/2018 onwards now separately indicates the number of council officers and school staff. These show that the number of council officers earning £50,000-£140,000 a year had increased from 218 to 240 in the space of a year. (Appendix 1).
This increase does seem at odds with Lambeth’s claim that in the space of 10 years the number of senior officers had only increased by 10, when it has now increased by 22 in the space of a single year. The recently released 2018/2019 accounts show a further leap in the number of council officers earning £50,000-£140,000, with the number of these officers now standing at 279 (Appendix 2). Adding on the nine top earners in the council brings the total for senior managers to 288.
Several other councils we checked are also showing a large increase in senior staff for the year 2018/2019. This is most probably as a result of people who have been employed on a long term basis via agencies having to become employees as a result of a clampdown by HMRC.
NOTES FROM THE MAIN REPORT
1 Salaries in 2006/2007 were stated in bands of £10,000-eg £50,000-£59,999. This was subsequently changed to bands of £5,000. The earliest instance of this is for the years 2008/2009, shown in the 2009/2010 accounts, which show 148 people earning £50,000-£55,000. The number of people in 2006/2007 earning £50,000-£59,999 was 142.
2 The number of senior staff earning over £50,000 in 2016/2017 is actually 651, not 643. The figure of 643 excludes eight of the most senior staff who are separately listed on Page 35 of the accounts.
3 The increase from 218 to 240 excludes the most senior positions (those earning over £140,000 per annum). These positions are listed separately in the accounts.
4 Councillor Imogen Walker e-mail to People’s Audit dated 14th January 2018
9 2006/2007: Total staff numbers = 274 less 212 council officers = 62 schools staff. 2016/2017: Total staff numbers = 651 less 220 council officers = 431 schools staff
16 Corpus Christi RC, Johanna Oasis Academy, Dunraven, Platanos College and St Martin-in-the-Fields; https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/schools-by-type?