DORSET Council claims its pay policy which has resulted in chief executive Matt Prosser being paid seven times more than the ‘average’ employee is fair and in line with other councils.

It says that the pay levels are bench-marked independently and the difference is much less than is widely found in the private sector.

The authority also says it has removed more than 114 senior managers post during the past year – creating savings of £7 million a year on year.

A report going before the council next week shows that those on the lowest graded jobs at the council earn roughly £17,300 a year while the chief executive’s basic pay is listed as £168,300 with four executive directors on between £122,400 and £137,700 and 11 corporate directors on between £86,700 and £112,200.

Based on these figures the average, or median, figure for Dorset Council pay should be around £24,000 a year – although this calculation is not shown in the report.

The figures for the chief executive and other senior posts only include the basic pay with other duties, such as running elections and other duties, attracting additional payments.

Said Cllr Peter Wharf, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Corporate Development and Change:“We’ve been working hard to reduce the council’s pay bill and use those savings to invest in essential services for residents. Since the formation of Dorset Council in April, we have streamlined senior management and significantly reduced staffing costs.

“Through the Local Government Reorganisation process we have reduced the number of chief executive officers from four to one and removed 114 posts at Service Manager level and above (the top four tiers). This has produced savings of £7m in a full year and will continue to do so every year thereafter.

“Dorset Council is a large and complex organisation. Our directors and senior leaders are responsible for delivering over 450 services to 380,000 residents, managing over 4,500 employees and a budget of over £300m.

"Councillors considered salaries for our senior leaders in early 2019. We ensured the salaries proposed were bench-marked independently of the council. This piece of work compared salaries regionally and nationally. We have a strong senior leadership team and trust in their abilities to lead and deliver the ambitions of this council.”

A report last year, when the council was considering how much salary to offer the new chief executive concluded that at the time the highest paid chief executive of the 15 unitary authorities in the South West received £159,409 based on 2015 figures, with the average pay at the time of  just over £150,000.

The consultants recommended offering a higher salary to attract the best candidates, given the acknowledged difficulties of creating a new unitary council is a timeframe of a little over a year. A figure of £175,000 a year featured in one report.