Pay increases on the cards for Bedford Borough officers

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Highly-paid council officers are set to pocket pay increases – despite the borough budget crisis.

The new pay policy for the council’s 21 executives and directors was due to be voted through with little or no opposition by councillors this week.

All top salary bandings are going up by more than two per cent, though the council say the actual pay rises will equate to one per cent.

Last year the combined salary for the 21 officers was between £1.8m and £2.04m.

The move comes days after Mayor Dave Hodgson laid out the “dire” funding situation the council is facing this year.

In a newsletter referring to the round of recent cuts, Mayor Dave said: “The budget includes tough decisions which frankly we did not want to make, but which are sadly unavoidable.”

Councillors themselves voted earlier this year to freeze any increase on their own allowances, which range from £62,500 a year for the mayor to £10,425 a year for basic councillors.

A spokesman for Bedford borough said the decision about council bosses’ salaries was in line with “a national pay scheme”.

However, other cash-strapped local authorities such as Milton Keynes have bucked the national guidelines and frozen officers’ pay.

The new salary for Bedford’s chief executive Philip Simpkins will now be between £156,000 and £173,000 a year.

His previous salary was between £153,000 and £170,000.

The next highest earners are the director of children’s and adult services and the executive director for environment and sustainable communities.

Salaries for these two will increase from between £122,000 and £133,000 per annum in 2016/17 to between £124,963 and £136,260.

Assistant executives and assistant directors will all earn between £94,894 and £102,928 per annum.

A council spokesman said: “The nationally negotiated pay rise was one per cent per year for two years as agreed in 2016. This follows four years of pay freezes for council staff from 2009 to 2013.”