Sudden rise in £50,000-plus earners explained by council

Argyll and Bute Council chief executive Pippa Milne

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A significant rise in the number of employees earning more than £50,000 on the Argyll and Bute Council payroll has been published.

In the latest unaudited accounts for 2019-20, a total of 274 people were listed as earning over £50,000 – compared to just 119 in 2018-19.

However, the sudden increase of 155 people in the £50,000 band has been largely attributed to nationally-negotiated pay increases for 127 teachers.

During the last financial year, teachers benefited from a pay award after a freeze in recent years.

This pushed their salaries over the £50,000 bracket for the first time and also meant pay being backdated for some.

That still left 28 people on the list of earners over £50,000 who are not teachers.

The council said in a statement that 23 of these had salaries in excess of £40k in 2018-19.

Therefore, their appearance in the £50,000 band in the 2019/20 report was ‘largely to do with standard inflationary increments or promotions,’ said the council.

The remaining five were either new employees in 2019-20 or employees whose annual salary would have tipped the £50,000 mark in 2018-19 had they been employed for the full year.

The council said the number of officers receiving remuneration of more than £100,000 in 2019-20 increased from three to five.

This was because one employee retired and their redundancy package was included in the calculation, the council said.

The other officer only worked a portion of 2018-19 which meant they did not feature in that band during the 2018-19 report.

A note in the accounts said: ‘Readers should be aware when making comparisons between years that, due to contractual incremental pay increases, the number of employees covered by this disclosure will increase each year.

‘In addition, payments made in respect of agreed employment terminations or retirements can also distort the number and/or banding of employees.’

The highest paid member of staff was Pippa Milne, who was promoted to chief executive in November, earning £107,671 excluding taxable expenses – her full-year salary is £124,665. Executive director Douglas Hendry was paid £102,752.