Fife Council wages still at half billion mark despite cuts

The bill for wages has not gone done, despite the axing of 2000 jobs. Stock pic - John Devlin.
The bill for wages has not gone done, despite the axing of 2000 jobs. Stock pic - John Devlin.

Despite axing 2000 jobs since 2010, cash-strapped Fife Council is still forking out nearly half a billion pounds in wages every year.

Furthermore, when financial woes were cited by the local authority to justify “difficult decisions” to cut public services, the number of council employees on salaries of £40,000 plus went up.

The figures, obtained by the Press through a Freedom of Information request, reveal that this financial year, Fife Council’s wage bill stands at £484.4 million.

That figure - which is expected to rise - exceeds the wage bill for 2012-13 which stood at £483.3 million.

The number of staff on ’middle management’ salaries of £40k plus has also risen from 1282 in 2012-13 to a current level of 1383.

Salaries of 75k plus have risen from 43 to 47 people.

Sharon McKenzie, head of human resources acknowledged the annual bill had not reduced in ‘cash terms’.

She added: “However, it has reduced in real terms since the figures include pay awards, incremental progression costs, increased National Insurance contribution and pension costs.

“There have also been additional pay bill costs associated with UK Government’s pension initiative to require employers to auto enrol the majority of employees in pension schemes; and the introduction of the Scottish Local Government Living Wage for our employees from April 2013.

She continued: “If we had not reduced our workforce, the additional costs incurred would have been higher, resulting in the pay bill being significantly higher than reported.”

Since 2010 - not counting employees who transferred to the single Police and Fire Services, the Trusts which have been established by Fife Council, and Fife Resource Solutions LLP - there has been a reduction of around 2,000 posts.

Fife Council’s headcount currently stands at 17,586 employees.

Ms MacKenzie said: “The council has also sought to reduce contractual hours to make savings as opposed to losing jobs.

“As a result of nationally agreed pay awards of 1 per cent in both 2013 and 2014, and 1.5 per cent in 2015 salaries have increased across all pay scales.”

A wide-ranging package of cuts to tackle a budget gap of £38m this year was approved by Fife Council in February.

The region must save £91 million over three years.

Council leader David Ross said: “As a direct result of this budget and the savings we are required to make we will lose around 235 jobs, and a further 1000-2000 jobs as part of the transformation over the next three years.”