Almost £600,000 spent on two interim children's services directors at Somerset County Council

County Hall, in Taunton

County Hall, in Taunton

First published in News

THE near £600,000 cost of employing two temporary bosses to turn around Somerset’s failing children’s services has been branded “astonishing”.

The salary and agency fees for Peter Lewis, an interim director at County Hall since 2013, total £318,500 – compared to the Prime Minister’s £142,500 salary.

His interim deputy Kate Lovell’s pay and agency fees add up to £275,000.

It is seen as a slap in the face for staff, who recently went on strike over pay as the council slashes £18million from its budget and job have been axed.

The remuneration for Mr Lewis, who was hired through an agency after being employed in a similar role at Haringey Council in the wake of the Baby P scandal, is among the highest for a local authority employee in the country.

He was employed after OFSTED judged Somerset’s children’s services “inadequate”.

The Unite union’s Nigel Behan said: “It seems excessive that senior managers get accelerated pay increases while everyone at the bottom has an 18 to 20% real terms pay cut over four years.

“It widens the gap and is disappointing.”

Cllr Jane Lock, LibDem Opposition leader, said: “His fees would employ an extra 10 social workers alone.

“There are currently 40 vacancies in frontline social services, staff are demoralised and worried about the lack of direction, information or support.”

Independent councillor Mike Rigby said: “I find this level of remuneration astonishing at a time of supposed austerity.

“I know the service hasn’t been running well in recent years, being rated by OFSTED as ‘inadequate’ and that drastic action is required, but I question whether the improvements seen in the service are commensurate with the salaries being paid here.”

A county spokesman said Mr Lewis was appointed to ensure the safety of children following two damning OFSTEDs.

He added: “We took the decision to invest in high-quality temporary directors with a proven track record to ensure that improvement was immediate.

“We are pleased to see improvements have been made since the appointments and we are now in a position to advertise for full-time replacements for the two positions.

“We have also significantly boosted numbers of social workers in this crucial area as well as increased the budget.

Somerset County Council quite rightly puts a premium on our children’s safety.”

*Somerset County Council was accused of paying “bloated” salaries earlier this year when it emerged 15 posts were costing taxpayers more than £96,000 each.

Top of the list was former chief executive Sheila Wheeler, who was on £160,000 plus pension contributions of £21,600.

She has since left “by mutual consent” with a £40,000 pay off after being on paid leave for three months and now works for an anti-trafficking organisation based in India.

Comments (11)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

9:50am Thu 24 Jul 14

Somerset_BTGOG says...

What a waste!
What a waste! Somerset_BTGOG
  • Score: 13

11:48am Thu 24 Jul 14

r000006 says...

And still the service isn't up to scratch

From the BBC today - http://www.bbc.co.uk
/news/uk-england-som
erset-28458868
And still the service isn't up to scratch From the BBC today - http://www.bbc.co.uk /news/uk-england-som erset-28458868 r000006
  • Score: 9

6:45pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Blue Owl says...

Who Decides on these outrageous Salaries, more than the Prime Minister earns, ridiculous waste of Public Resources. On top of this are also Pension rights. Only yesterday, it was revealed that the Woman from the Haringey Council in London, has received in excess of £650.000 pounds in Compensation and back pay and Pension provision.
No wonder, ordinary Taxpayers, lose faith in a System, where Social Workers and Civil Servants Salaries are so out of Sync with the Private Sector.
No wonder they think and act as if they are more important than the rest
of us. There needs to be an external board, that oversee's these Salaries, like we had as Councillors, outside regulators, who suggested pay awards, we refused to accept the increases and also the Pension Rights that they said we were entitled too, but, with the Recessionary climate that was in place at the time, we rejected the increases ourselves, but it was overseen, by controlling measures, to access its Correctness in the Public Eyes, as it is Taxpayers resources that are being squandered.
David L Preece
Blue - Owl
Who Decides on these outrageous Salaries, more than the Prime Minister earns, ridiculous waste of Public Resources. On top of this are also Pension rights. Only yesterday, it was revealed that the Woman from the Haringey Council in London, has received in excess of £650.000 pounds in Compensation and back pay and Pension provision. No wonder, ordinary Taxpayers, lose faith in a System, where Social Workers and Civil Servants Salaries are so out of Sync with the Private Sector. No wonder they think and act as if they are more important than the rest of us. There needs to be an external board, that oversee's these Salaries, like we had as Councillors, outside regulators, who suggested pay awards, we refused to accept the increases and also the Pension Rights that they said we were entitled too, but, with the Recessionary climate that was in place at the time, we rejected the increases ourselves, but it was overseen, by controlling measures, to access its Correctness in the Public Eyes, as it is Taxpayers resources that are being squandered. David L Preece Blue - Owl Blue Owl
  • Score: 4

10:54pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Right to challenge says...

Both are part time which makes this extortionate pay even more wrong and immoral. The question of whether they are value for money and making a difference, and have they really improved or was that down to another who exposed Lewis and Lovell for what they were
Both are part time which makes this extortionate pay even more wrong and immoral. The question of whether they are value for money and making a difference, and have they really improved or was that down to another who exposed Lewis and Lovell for what they were Right to challenge
  • Score: 9

10:59pm Thu 24 Jul 14

Right to challenge says...

Fact is that Lewis and Lovell arrived before the OFSTED inadequate judgement and not after as bring reported by the council. Fact Lovell is covering a non existence post this was created, how had this been justified.
Fact is that Lewis and Lovell arrived before the OFSTED inadequate judgement and not after as bring reported by the council. Fact Lovell is covering a non existence post this was created, how had this been justified. Right to challenge
  • Score: 10

7:57am Fri 25 Jul 14

jellyonaplate says...

Absolutely disgusting
Absolutely disgusting jellyonaplate
  • Score: 9

11:30am Fri 25 Jul 14

KevinTurvey says...

Another case of rewarding failure.
Another case of rewarding failure. KevinTurvey
  • Score: 7

1:35pm Fri 25 Jul 14

Love Your Job says...

Not at all surprised especially after the Shelia 'Gardening Leave' Wheeler story who was on £160k a year for doing nothing. Just goes to show that the council so not have a clue what they are doing. They'd probably even struggle to run a bath!
Anyway, I had better get back to work to pay yet more tax for the council to urinate up the wall.
Not at all surprised especially after the Shelia 'Gardening Leave' Wheeler story who was on £160k a year for doing nothing. Just goes to show that the council so not have a clue what they are doing. They'd probably even struggle to run a bath! Anyway, I had better get back to work to pay yet more tax for the council to urinate up the wall. Love Your Job
  • Score: 9

5:37am Mon 28 Jul 14

ladybird14 says...

anyone with children going through school now parents need to let them know what carer path to follow lets all jump on the band wagon now !!!
anyone with children going through school now parents need to let them know what carer path to follow lets all jump on the band wagon now !!! ladybird14
  • Score: 0

10:51am Mon 28 Jul 14

wivey says...

Mr Lewis probably isn't employed by the County so he isn't paid a salary by the County. Instead, as an "interim Director", he is most probably contracted via his company StubbsStorey Ltd. StubbStorey will be paid a consultancy or contract fee by the County. What Mr Lewis personally earns is a matter for his company. However, in other similar setups, after the company has paid corporation tax, the profits are distributed to the shareholder(s) (often the Directors) as dividends, which are income tax exempt.

It might be that the contract fee can be justfieid if Mr Lewis can deliver the results. But why is the County repeatedly preferring to hire incredibly expensive interim managers (who don't pay tax) rather than sort out its management team. Five years in power and they are still struggling with the basics of running a local authority. Are the Cabinet politicians incapable of employing and working with professional managers? And if so, why? To me that's the real story - but it's not one being told.
Mr Lewis probably isn't employed by the County so he isn't paid a salary by the County. Instead, as an "interim Director", he is most probably contracted via his company StubbsStorey Ltd. StubbStorey will be paid a consultancy or contract fee by the County. What Mr Lewis personally earns is a matter for his company. However, in other similar setups, after the company has paid corporation tax, the profits are distributed to the shareholder(s) (often the Directors) as dividends, which are income tax exempt. It might be that the contract fee can be justfieid if Mr Lewis can deliver the results. But why is the County repeatedly preferring to hire incredibly expensive interim managers (who don't pay tax) rather than sort out its management team. Five years in power and they are still struggling with the basics of running a local authority. Are the Cabinet politicians incapable of employing and working with professional managers? And if so, why? To me that's the real story - but it's not one being told. wivey
  • Score: 4

6:00pm Tue 29 Jul 14

Monument says...

SCC is not fit for purpose but i can guarantee that at the next council election the same group of no hopers will in the main be re-elected because the silent majority simply do not care about performance and only vote on party lines.

If a stuffed toy stood for the Tories or Liberals in one of their safe wards then it would win a seat.
SCC is not fit for purpose but i can guarantee that at the next council election the same group of no hopers will in the main be re-elected because the silent majority simply do not care about performance and only vote on party lines. If a stuffed toy stood for the Tories or Liberals in one of their safe wards then it would win a seat. Monument
  • Score: 1

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree