Caerphilly Council senior pay setting was 'unlawful'

6 Mar 2013 - 12:00am

Appointed Auditor uncovers significant failures in governance arrangements and inadequacies in processes to determine Chief Officers' pay

Public interest report into the processes adopted by Caerphilly County Borough Council to determine the pay of chief officers has been published today.

The report considered whether the local authority acted appropriately when the decision to increase the pay of its most senior staff was taken in September 2012.

Appointed Auditor and Assistant Auditor General, Anthony Barrett, said today: "I believe it is important that the public has full and proper awareness of the events concerning Caerphilly County Borough Council. I also consider it appropriate to give the Council the opportunity to explain the important steps it has taken to improve arrangements and to ensure the risk of such failures recurring is reduced to a minimum.

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Appointed Auditor uncovers significant failures in governance arrangements and inadequacies in processes to determine Chief Officers' pay

Public interest report into the processes adopted by Caerphilly County Borough Council to determine the pay of chief officers has been published today.

The report considered whether the local authority acted appropriately when the decision to increase the pay of its most senior staff was taken in September 2012.

Appointed Auditor and Assistant Auditor General, Anthony Barrett, said today:

"I believe it is important that the public has full and proper awareness of the events concerning Caerphilly County Borough Council. I also consider it appropriate to give the Council the opportunity to explain the important steps it has taken to improve arrangements and to ensure the risk of such failures recurring is reduced to a minimum.

"I have concluded that the decision by the Senior Remuneration Committee on 5th September 2012 to approve the pay structure set out in the report of the Chief Executive was unlawful on a number of grounds.

"The first is that the meeting of the Senior Remuneration Committee was not properly advertised in accordance with the Local Government Act and neither were agendas for the meeting made available for public inspection as they should have been.

"Certain officers, including the Chief Executive, who would have been (and indeed were) beneficiaries of the decision were present at the meeting to approve the salary increases. No declarations of interest were made and these officers did not leave the room while the decision was made. Consequently they participated in the decision making process when they had a disqualifiying financial interest.

"Additionally, the report presented to the Committee was written by the Chief Executive who was himself a direct beneficiary of the decision made and who gave advice on a matter in which he had a financial interest.

"Finally, this report did not consider the full range of options identified. Nor was there any detailed and explicit consideration of these options in the meeting of the Committee."

Anthony Barrett concluded:

"I do consider much can, and indeed should, be learnt in respect of the processes followed by the Senior Remuneration Committee. Council officers have indicated to me that they accept that there are lessons to be learned.

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  • The Wales Audit Office mission is to promote improvement, so that people in Wales benefit from accountable, well-managed public services that offer the best possible value for money. It is also committed to identify and spreading good practice across the Welsh public sector.
  • The Auditor General for Wales is responsible for appointing auditors of local government bodies. Once appointed these auditors are legally separate persons who exercise their own statutory functions independently.
  • PWC carry out the audit work at Caerphilly County Borough Council on behalf of the Appointed Auditor.

For more information please contact Communications on 029 2032 0520 or 029 2032 0581.