Croydon council’s former chief executive Jo Negrini received the highest remuneration of any council employee in the country when she left her job two months before the borough went bankrupt, the new Town Hall Rich List reveals.
As the borough faced financial ruin Croydon Council was paying 29 staff over £100,000 – exceeding salaries paid to senior staff in neighbouring boroughs, according to the TaxPayers’ Alliance compiled list.
The figures show that ten more Croydon officers – up from 19 the previous year – were receiving the bumper wage packets.
The list covers the financial year 2020- 21, the period where the council issued a Section 114 notice, declaring bankruptcy with the the Labour administration having to go to the government cap in hand for a multi million pound bail out.
Residents have since seen services cut, assets sold and a council tax hike of almost three per cent along with several crisis including the Regina Road housing repairs scandal.
Recently with council tenants already facing a cost of living crisis the Labour council voted for 4.1 per cent hike in their rents.
Meanwhile CEO Negrini, (pictured) who left the council in September 2020 received £613,895 including a loss-of-office payment of £144,356 and a ‘pension strain payment’ of £292,851.
In November 2020, the council issued the Section 114 and a series of scandals emerged including the cost of the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls which has been referred to the police and the closure of the loss making housing development company Brick by Brick.
Not all those on the Croydon list are named including the recipient of a salary of £192,500 and others have already left the council’s employment.
They include: Finance, investment and risk officer: Lisa Taylor who was the interim S151 lead and receive a salary of £162,134 , Executive director of Place Shifa Mustafa: £156,06, Executive director of resources and monitoring officerJacqueline Harris-Baker: £156,060 and Executive director of health, wellbeing and adults, Guy Van Dichele £150,411.
They were originally suspended pending an investigation after the collapse of the council’s finances but resigned or left without pay offs. Mr Van Dichele is now bringing claims for constructive dismissal and discrimination.
The council also made a number of poor investment choices and had to take a £5 million loss on the sale of Croydon Park hotel.Many of the strategies were badly executed but driven by a desire to fill the huge gap in funding the borough receives from central government.
It recently increased the money it loaned from government and is likely to have to sell off even more of its assets to cover the cost of repayments.
The Town Hall rich list also details the current chief executive Katherine Kerswell’s salary of £132,921 which includes £27,595 in pension contributions.
To put the overall Croydon salary figures into context, neighbouring Sutton had just 14 staff whose remuneration exceeded £100,000 and Merton 12. Even inner London neighbours Lambeth had less officers 27 staff and Lewisham 19 both fewer than Croydon, Barnet a similar sized borough made do with just eight staff on over £100K.
Across the country 3,000 town hall bureaucrats took home more than £100,000 last year as salaries soared during the pandemic.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the high salaries showed that there was still a lot of waste that could be cut in local authorities.
A total of 739 were paid more than £150,000 – up 46 on the year before.
He said: “Taxpayers facing a cost-of-living crisis want to know they are getting value for money from their local authority leadership.
‘With households having suffered through the pandemic and now struggling under colossal tax bills, the country needs councils to prioritise key services without resorting to punishing tax hikes.
‘These figures will allow residents to judge town hall bosses for themselves and hold their local councils to account.”