Sally Hodges, the new director of children’s services at Northamptonshire County Council is being paid £1,100 for every day she is at work.
This means that Sally Hodges, who took up her post in February, will be paid £258,000 a year for her work.
To put this figure in context, it is £108,000 a year more than the Prime Minister, Theresa May.
It is also ten times the average starting salary for a social worker.
Northampton councillor Julie Davenport spoke to the Daventry Express about Sally Hodges’ wage and said: “I don’t think anybody is worth that salary. If people want to earn that sort of money they should work for a profit-making corporation, not in public service”.
Kev Standishday, Unison’s branch secretary in Northamptonshire, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “This obscene salary cannot be justified in any way and harks back to the days when NCC paid outrageous sums of money to consultants and agency staff across social care which then contributed to the county going broke.”
“How can the political leadership boast about balancing the budget whilst knowing this had been agreed?
“Staff are facing a real terms pay cut, increased parking charges, probable increases in child care due to the nursery funding cuts and a five per cent council tax rise.”
GMB branch secretary Rachelle Wilkins added to Unison’s criticism by sayings she was “deeply concerned” about the salary.
“I’m deeply concerned about this”, Wilkins explained. “With everything that has gone on within the council in the past 18 months there needs to be a degree of sensibility about things. This sends the wrong message to people that have worked for the council without a pay rise. It is like the council is creating a two-tier system in its workforce.”
The financial situation at Northamptonshire County Council has been so parlous that last year it had to impose emergency spending controls on two separate occasions.
In both February and July 2018, the council were forced to issue Section 114 notices which banned all new expenditure, with the exception of statutory services for protecting vulnerable people.
Such extreme measures were needed as the council was facing a potential budget shortfall of between £60m to £70m.
The council were forced to sell their own headquarters, which they had only built the year before, raise council tax by 4.9%, and cut a raft of services in order to make the necessary savings.
Described as the first ‘bankrupt’ council since 1985, Northamptonshire’s dire financial situation has seen staff pay freezes and social workers operating in an environment of great uncertainty and spiralling stress.
Compounding this financial uncertainty, social workers in Northamptonshire are now working for a service that Ofsted say has ‘significantly declined since its last inspection in 2016’.
In their most recent inspection report, published in November 2018, Ofsted warned that a total of 267 children in Northamptonshire were without an allocated social worker and had not been seen by the county council for long periods.
The report identified that huge workloads were creating major stress for social workers and resulting in so many children being left unallocated and unassessed.
In the context of such high caseloads and financial worries, it is difficult for Northamptonshire social workers to see how their new director is worth ten times as much to the council as they are.