Call for cull of fat cats to save council money


By Andrea McCallum

A LOCAL authority leader has called for the cull of council fat cats to help save money by the start of the new financial year.

Councillor Jenny Dawe ordered City of Edinburgh Council’s chief executive to look at cutting chief staff before April.

And six directors earning over £100,000 a year could be among the targets.

The council is hunting for savings as part of a £90 million cut over the next three years.

Councillor Dawe suggested merging departments and having both directors and senior managers take on more work.

She said: “I will put a motion to the (policy and strategy) committee asking the chief executive to report to the budget meeting of all ways of reducing costs and structures of senior management.

“Although we have taken some steps to reducing management layers and working more efficiently, we have not had a formal report and the chief executive will be asked to provide one.

“We have to look at all levels of staffing in the council and senior management levels need to be looked at as much as other layers of staff.

“Given age profiles, it may be that this can be delivered relatively quickly and we may be able to deliver savings for the next budget year.

“It is a case of looking at whether efficiencies can be made or potentially reducing numbers by combining departments.”

Tom Aitchison, council chief executive, is to report back on his findings by next month.

The city council has been slammed in the past for paying out enormous wage packets.

A recent analysis of salaries showed that 23 staff earn more than three times the average Edinburgh salary at £79, 248.

And seven of those earn six-figure sums – including Mr Aitchison who takes home over £150,000.

The six other directors – corporate, finance, services for communities, health and social care, and education and city development – are each paid over £105,000.

Trade unions urged caution when identifying ways to save money.

John Stevenson, president of Unison’s Edinburgh branch, said: “It is seductive to reduce the number of top earners and managers but there is a balance to be struck.

“For example, social work struggled for a number of years because there were not enough managers so those that there are can get bogged down in operational matters.

“We are happy to talk about any ideas that they have but we would caution that we wouldn’t want to end up with the organisation being under-managed.”