Unions’ outrage at £999-a-day head of finance

From the Argus, 5th Dec 2014.

Brighton and Hove City Council appoint finance temp on £999 a day as 300 staff face the axe
Exclusive By Adrian Imms
Brighton and Hove City Council is paying an agency almost £1,000 a day for someone to fill a temporary position.
Rachel Musson took on the role of interim executive director for finance and resources at Brighton and Hove City Council last month.
The council will pay the agency that she is employed through £999 a day for her services – even after negotiating the rate down from a higher figure.
The Argus can reveal the figure after councillors discussed how to plug a gap of £26 million at a policy and resources meeting last night.
As we previously reported, 300 council jobs could also be lost as the authority looks to balance its books.
The council’s chief executive Penny Thompson told The Argus the figure is “the market rate” for this type of work, in the range of £950 to £1,150 a day.
She said: “It is vital we have a suitably qualified person in place to steer the council through the very challenging circumstances of the next budget, where the council needs to secure savings of up to £26 million.”
Ms Musson’s contract with the council expires in September next year.
In terms of her actual salary, after agency fees, a council spokesman said: “Ms Musson is paid for the days she works each week and this may vary each week.
“This is the nature of an interim assignment so it’s not possible to predict her earnings for the period.”
Ms Musson’s appointment follows the announced departure of Catherine Vaughan, executive director of finance and resources, who leaves next Friday, meaning a three-week window where the council pays two wages.
Mrs Vaughan is to become the finance director at the Land Registry in Croydon, which is part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Ms Musson most recently worked for a centre set up by Innovate UK, a government organisation.
Her last local authority post was an interim appointment at Cheshire East Borough Council as chief operating officer, which she occupied for nine months.
Geoffrey Theobald, the Conservative opposition leader, described the sum as “an extraordinary amount”.
Warren Morgan, leader of the Labour and Co-operative group, said: “It is the Green administration’s decision to sign off senior officer pay, and the use of an interim director rather than making a permanent replacement.
“Given the level of cuts we face as a council I would, if elected leader of the council, take a much firmer view on senior salaries.”
Jason Kitcat, leader of the council, told The Argus he understood how the public might feel about Ms Musson’s appointment but said: “It’s a very difficult job to do.”
He added: “We are confident she can do it well.”
Coun Kitcat also said Ms Musson was appointed by a cross-party panel.
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*Unison and the GMB have asked the Chief Executive for an emergency Staff Consultation Forum meeting to discuss this appointment

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