Northamptonshire unions call new children's services boss's salary 'obscene'

Sally Hodges (fourth from right) is now the highest paid senior officer at the county council and is being paid 1,100 a day.
Sally Hodges (fourth from right) is now the highest paid senior officer at the county council and is being paid 1,100 a day.

Unions representing staff at Northamptonshire County Council have hit out at the pay of new children’s director as ‘obscene and unjustified’.

Yesterday it was revealed that Sally Hodges, who was appointed to the post in February, is taking home a wage of £1,100 a day which adds up to an annual salary of £258,000.

The unions who represent staff at the authority, who this year have not been given a pay rise, say the pay level is unacceptable and that such huge salaries in public authorities need to stop.

The pay level makes Sally Hodges the highest paid senior officer in the council and is more than is earned by her boss, chief executive Theresa Grant.

Branch secretary of the Unison Northamptonshire Kev Standishday said: “This obscene salary cannot be justified in any way and harks back to the days when NCC paid outrageous sums of money to consultants and agency staff across social care which then contributed to the county going broke.

“How can the political leadership boast about balancing the budget whilst knowing this had been agreed?

“Staff are facing a real terms pay cut, increased parking charges, probable increases in child care due to the nursery funding cuts and a five per cent council tax rise.”

GMB branch secretary Rachelle Wilkins said: “I’m deeply concerned about this. With everything that has gone on within the council in the past 18 months there needs to be a degree of sensibility about things. This sends the wrong message to people that have worked for the council without a pay rise. It is like the council is creating a two-tier system in its workforce.”

The unions have been told that there could be a pay rise in June for all staff, with pay backdated to April. But there is nothing definite as yet.

The council has announced recently that this year it should balance its books, after going £40m over budget last financial year. To do so it has had to impose emergency spending, make cuts to services and has been given a special dispensation by the Government to use the funds from its sale of headquarters One Angel Square to pay off the deficit.

The children’s services department at NCC has been in turmoil for some time and after a damning Ofsted inspection the Government sent in a children’s commissioner to report back an assessment of the department and suggest a way forward.

Before joining NCC Sally Hodges has been a children’s director at a number of other councils and has advised Ofsted.

The authority said ‘a detailed market assessment was carried out to ensure the salary is aligned to market rates for experienced children’s services professionals.’