Labour and the Greens’ proposal for a pay rise for council officers would hit frontline services hard and come at a cost to residents in the city while also increasing the pay inequality.
Labour and Green councillors put forward the proposal at a pre-budget meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee.
The move would cost £2.4 million to Brighton and Hove City Council’s budget if permitted, a sum which a council finance report states would have to be found by cuts to frontline services.
Is a pay rise for council executives the right policy for our city right now?
Our council is already facing a £10.4 million budget deficit which will have to be addressed when setting budget later this month.
This is largely down to poor financial management by Labour and the Greens in running the council over the past 12 months, including a series of major ideological policy blunders.
The pay freeze for council officers was a one-year measure only across the country to help get through the pandemic so we can support essential services with a return to normal pay rises for council staff next year.
These savings had already been factored in by the council’s finance officers and brought the projected deficit down to the level it is at – £10.4 million.
Labour and the Greens’ vote to reverse this measure is highly irresponsible and would add to the budget deficit, requiring cuts elsewhere that would hit residents hard. This would be unconscionable.
While staff are highly valued, it is the wrong time to be awarding council pay rises given the impact on our residents.
Many council staff are paid fairly well and the impact of this measure would be that the services we provide would be cut as a result. This would hit vulnerable residents who rely on them throughout the city.
In addition, it is worth noting that this pay policy would serve to increase pay inequality at the council.
A fixed 2.2 per cent pay rise across the board, for example, would increase the pay gap between the highest and lowest paid council workers by £2,300. How is that fair? Have they really thought this through?
Labour and the Greens are not prioritising residents’ needs during the pandemic nor the needs of our lower-paid staff.
It’s time for Labour and the Greens to get their priorities right. Services come first and council officer pay increases must take a back seat this year.
Councillor Steve Bell is the leader of the Conservatives on Brighton and Hove City Council.
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