Top council bosses earn more than Nicola Sturgeon - and she runs a country

Edinburgh City Council has more employees earning over £100,000 than any other local authority in Scotland, according to new figures.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 12:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th April 2021, 9:42 pm
Top earner: Chief Exec Andrew Kerr is paid £175,740

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The Taxpayers’ Alliance, a right-wing think tank that lobbies for lower tax, has released its annual ‘Town Hall Rich List’ report, which details all of the UK civil servants earning salaries of more than £100,000 during 2019/20.

The report lists 28 employees of Edinburgh City Council or employees of the council’s arms-length companies, earning above £100,000 - making it the highest-paying council in the country.

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Pay gap - Nicola Sturgeon earns £24,000 less than Mr Kerr

The council has only named ten employees - the chief executive , the directors of services and the heads of the arms-length companies.

Chief executive, Andrew Kerr, was the highest paid local authority employee in the capital in 2019/20, with a salary of £175,740.

He was closely followed by the former boss of Lothian Buses, Richard Hall, who before resigning in March 2020 with a golden handshake of £147,950, was taking home a salary of £174,618. Edinburgh City Council is the major shareholder in Lothian Buses.

The joint-third highest public salaries went to the three heads of the council’s directorships: director of communities and families, Alastair Gaw, who resigned in October; director of place, Paul Lawrence; and director of resources, Stephen Moir. Each received £158,150 in 2019/20.

Trams chief Lea Harrison got a £48,895 bonus on top of his £132,025 salary

The fourth highest public salary went to Marshall C Dallas, the chief executive of the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, which is owned by Edinburgh City Council.

Mr Dallas also received a bonus of £28,838 on top of his salary in 2019/20 - the sixth highest bonus received by a UK local authority employee in that year.

The fifth and sixth highest public salaries went to the chief executive of Transport for Edinburgh, George Lowder, and the general manager of Edinburgh Trams, Lea Harrison, who took home £146,441 and £132,025 respectively.

In addition to his salary, Mr Harrison received a bonus of £48,895 in 2019/20 - the highest bonus paid to a local authority employee in the UK.

Both Transport for Edinburgh and Edinburgh Trams are owned by Edinburgh City Council.

The seventh and eight highest salaries went to Hugh Dunn, head of finance at the council, and Jackie Irvine, the council’s chief social worker, who earned £115,230 and £109,100 respectively.

In comparison, Prime Minister Boris Johnson takes homes £198,661, including his parliamentary salary of £65,738, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is paid £151,721 a year.

According to jobs site Indeed, the average salary for teachers in Scotland is £34,595, and for care home workers it is £9.77 an hour.

The 18 other employees, the names of which the council did not disclose, are believed to be senior managers working in the areas of health and social care, education, finance, human resources, transport, and housing.

A council spokesperson said: “We want to promote transparency and accountability within the council and always publish the salaries and expenses of our most senior managers as part of our annual accounts.

“The majority of people identified in this report aren’t, however, directly employed by the council.

“For those we directly employ, rates of pay are determined by a wholly objective job evaluation scheme aligned to the national pay arrangements for chief officials, which reflect the level of responsibility for the roles concerned.”

On Mr Harrison’s salary, the spokesperson added: “Pay awards are a matter for the board of Edinburgh Trams. However, as a council we have publicly discussed and strongly urge restraint amongst the arm’s length transport companies with regard to bonuses, and continue to stress this to their boards.”

Edinburgh Trams have been contacted for comment

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