Northamptonshire County Council's new director of children's services being paid £1,100 a day

Sally Hodges joined the council in February.
Sally Hodges joined the council in February.

The new director of children’s services at Northamptonshire County Council is being paid £1,100 a day and has become the highest paid senior officer at the authority.

This means that Sally Hodges, who took up post in February, will be paid £258,000 as an annual salary, which is £63,457 more per year than the council’s chief executive Theresa Grant.

It is also considerably more than the two commissioners Brian Roberts and Tony McArdle, who were sent in to oversee the council by central government in May after the Conservative run authority was heavily criticised by an inspector.

The post is temporary and for 2019.

Northampton councillor Julie Davenport is critical of the amount the council pays in big salaries to officers at a time when the authority is making cuts to budgets.

She said: “I don’t think anybody is worth that salary. If people want to earn that sort of money they should work for a profit-making corporation, not in public service.”

Sally Hodges has been director of children’s services at councils in Solihull and Staffordshire and has worked for Ofsted as a safeguarding adviser. Her department has a number of issues including underpayments to early years providers and trying to recruit permanent social workers.

When she joined the authority she said: “The needs of children are paramount and at the centre of my focus and I’ll be working hard to improve the service and make sure children and young people in Northamptonshire are safe and well looked after.

“Although Northamptonshire has been subject to critical inspections, there is a real spirit of change and everyone is very committed to the task so I am confident that the necessary improvements can be made.”

After a damning Ofsted inspection in October – before Sally Hodges took up her post – the department is also being overseen by children’s commissioner Malcolm Newsam who has sent a report to government about his findings in Northamptonshire. This has not as yet been made public.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “Sally is one of the UK’s leading children’s services professionals and has a wealth of experience, including extensive work with Ofsted and councils across the UK.

“Sally has represented authorities and agencies on a number of national bodies and has managed many different services for children including fostering, adoption, youth offending, child protection, residential care and has a salary to reflect this.

“Employed on a year-long contract, Sally is responsible for a workforce of over 1,200 and oversees projects which are crucial to keeping the county’s most vulnerable children safe, including leading the Children’s Improvement Plan and working directly with the government appointed Children’s Commissioner.

“A detailed market assessment was carried out to ensure the salary is aligned to market rates for experienced children’s services professionals.”

*Please note annual salary was reported as 286,000 in an earlier version but this did nor take into account 25 days holiday.