Arun council’s rich list: Who decides the CEO’s £146,000 salary and is it worth our money?

Arun District Council’s latest accounts reveal its chief executive, Nigel Lynn, was paid £146,000 in 2019/20.

Yesterday (April 7), we compared his salary, and those of the other two executive officers at the council to earn more than £100,000, to those of other workers.An entire year’s council tax from 74 Band D properties in Arun is needed to pay Mr Lynn’s salary, for example.

A non-political role, the chief executive is ultimately there to ensure the vision of the elected council is carried out, overseeing all facets of the public sector.

But the Gazette and Observer asked, does that represent value for money? Who decides how much executive officers are paid and whether they are worth it?

A spokesman for the district council has provided an explanation.

“Arun District Council has performed well in tough financial times, maintaining a balanced budget over many years and scoring highly across all service areas in performance data,” said the spokesman.

“The chief executive leads the organisation and therefore has the highest level of accountability for a wide range of services across the whole of the Arun district, which has one of the largest populations in West Sussex, serving more than 160,000 residents.

“The remuneration of the chief executive is recommended by the council’s Remuneration Committee and the decision is democratically endorsed by full council. This committee comprises of elected councillors from the main political parties and determines the pay of the chief executive on appointment and annually thereafter.

“The Remuneration Committee takes into account recommendations concerning performance from the chief executive appraisal panel. It also reviews market data relevant to chief executive pay for a large district such as Arun.”

A report from tax reform group the TaxPayers’ Alliance has revealed the number of executive officers being paid six-figure salaries in the UK is at its highest since 2013/14.

Alongside Mr Lynn, Arun’s two other highest paid executives are the director of place, Karl Roberts, and Philippa Dart, the director of services.

Together, the trio earned a total of £368,000 in 2019/20, including pension contributions of more than £20,000 each.

The Arun spokesman said the role of directors had changed during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The two directors also have a huge amount of individual responsibility and deputise for the chief executive when he is unavailable,” said the spokesman.

“As a team, they are responsible for delivering a wide range of vital services to Arun’s residents and, during the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, have had increased responsibilities to ensure that those services run as smoothly as possible and that vulnerable members of our community are safe.

“Senior pay is decided by democratically elected councillors in an open and transparent way and in recent years, the management structure has been streamlined resulting in fewer senior manager on high pay grades.”