Criticism as shared service boss contract is renewed

The �6,100 per week contract extension comes at a time when Northamptonshire County Council is cutting huge amounts of discretionary services in a bid to save �70m.
The �6,100 per week contract extension comes at a time when Northamptonshire County Council is cutting huge amounts of discretionary services in a bid to save �70m.

The boss of a back-office shared service jointly run by Northamptonshire County Council has had her £1,220 daily salary renewed in the middle of the council’s financial crisis.

Sarah Homer was first brought in to turn around  LGSS in February after the then managing director John Kane left the job with a £66,000 payment on top of his £152,000 salary.

Ms Homer’s appointment and salary received criticism at the time but now chief executive officers from the three partner councils NCC, Milton Keynes Council and Cambridgeshire County Council have renewed her contract and on the same payment terms.

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council said the contract is with their authority and that it lasts until November on the same terms and payment as before.

The £6,100 per week contract extension comes at a time when Northamptonshire County Council is cutting huge amounts of discretionary services in a bid to save £70m.

NCC’s Conservative cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Victoria Perry expressed her surprise at the decision to extend the contract in a recent twitter post.

She tweeted: “LGSS Sarah Homer staying until November following the 6 months initial appointment. First I have heard of it and I’m on the cabinet!

“We have CIPFA in forensic accounting our finances. LGSS need investigating in the same detail. The latest news re Sarah Homer highlights why they are next to be picked apart.”

Northamptonshire County Councillor Chris Stanbra (Lib Dems) said that if the LGSS chief executive’s salary is costing the council £400 a day that would equate to £100,000 paid to Ms Homer by NCC in one year.

He said: “This is a decision that should have been taken in consultation with the joint LGSS committee so that politicians were aware of what is being decided.

“There seems to be a lack of understanding by officers about the sensitivities around this and it would have been a good idea to have kept people fully involved.”

LGSS employs 1,600 staff and manages a combined delegated budget of £83m. It was heavily criticised by government inspector Max Caller in his best value report.

Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporter