The next chief executive of cash-strapped Kent County Council will take home a salary of up to £236,000.
The authority is currently in the process of hiring a replacement to David Cockburn who announced in April he was to retire this summer.
He will step down in July after suffering from long Covid. He was seriously ill after contracting the virus in January 2021.
He has been KCC’s most senior officer since December 2011.
Now, as the hunt begins for his successor, it has been revealed the successful candidate will pocket a salary at the very top of its pay scale – somewhere between £213,517 and £236,664.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, on the other hand, is entitled to a salary of just £164,951.
According to the Taxpayers’ Alliance, between 2021 and 2022, the out-going CEO, Mr Cockburn, pocketed £251,995. That figure includes expenses, pension contributions, bonuses and other benefits-in-kind. The year before it was £263,371.
A spokesperson for KCC said: “Kent has one of the largest populations of any local authority in the UK. KCC is a large, complex organisation and provides vital services to around 1.5 million residents.
“The chief executive has overall responsibility for the delivery of highly complex services, many of which are delivered to the most vulnerable residents in the county, within the resources available.
“We are recruiting an experienced and highly competent executive to ensure that we continue to deliver effective public services during what is the most challenging financial situation in the history of local government.
“The recruitment process for position of CEO is in the very early stages and the role has only just been advertised. When all applications are in, the final decision on an appointment will be made by our democratically elected councillors in an open and transparent way.”
Certainly whoever takes over the role will face a host of significant challenges. Earlier this year it was revealed the authority was running at a deficit of £53.7m and faced the risk of insolvency if it did not take urgent steps to balance the books.
It has faced reductions in government money while at the same time facing inflationary pressures as well as increased costs for the likes of social care.
The CEO will be ultimately responsible for a £2.4 billion budget and more than 12,000 employees – which excludes school staff.
While the salary is eye-catching, it pales into insignificance compared to those paid in the private sector.
By way of comparison, high street retailer WHSmith has about 14,000 employees and revenues of approximately £1.4bn. Its CEO earns £660,000 with the ability to earn a bonus of up to £960,000.
The CEO of Kent County Council oversees the administration of the organisation and helps execute the decisions made by the elected council members.