Percentage or lump sum raise for Fareham council staff sparks debate

Fareham Borough Council leader, Councillor Sean Woodward. Picture: Allan Hutchings (141420-121)
Fareham Borough Council leader, Councillor Sean Woodward. Picture: Allan Hutchings (141420-121)
The Rotary Club fountain in the Falklands Gardens in Gosport.  Picture: Steve Reid (080583-02)

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WHETHER council staff should receive a percentage pay rise or be given a lump sum was debated by councillors at a full council meeting.

Fareham Borough Council’s leader Sean Woodward said he was ‘delighted’ to announce a 6.2 per cent pay rise for all the council’s 380 staff, except the chief executive officer, at yesterday’s meeting.

Cllr Woodward said: ‘I am delighted to be able to present this report particularly in these current austere times.

‘We have had a number of years where we have not been able to give a pay rise. It has become apparent that we are not competitive as we need to be to recruit or retain staff.’

Cllr Woodward said he would be using £370,000 of £381,000 annual savings made from a new way of working called Vanguard, which was implemented last year at a cost of £300,000.

He said the pay rise would reward the staff for coping with the change and for dealing with a 14 per cent reduction of staff numbers over the last few years.

This motion was challenged by councillor Christopher Wood, who put forward a proposal that all employees should get a set £885 pay rise.

Cllr Wood said: ‘My proposal is fairer for all employees, benefits more people and saves the council nearly £50,000.’

This motion was both supported and challenged by many councillors in the council chamber.

Councillor Peter Davies said: ‘If Councillor Wood ever did a proper day’s work in a proper job then he would know that there is a market and the market sets the wages.’

He said that as certain roles require more skills then it was only fair that they received a per cent increase.

Councillor Connie Hockley said: ‘I am not an accountant or any expert on wages. I am just a lay man.

‘When I first saw this I thought good on councillor Wood he has done his homework and put some effort in but I cannot agree with it.

‘You cannot give everybody the same amount of money across the board as everybody does different jobs at different levels and that’s the way the market works.’

Leader of the opposition Paul Whittle agreed with giving a lump sum.

He said: ‘It is a sensible suggestion and it is the right way.’

The lump sum motion was voted out by councillors, the majority voting for the percentage increase.

Cllr Woodward said he want to end on a positive note and recognise well-performing members of staff who give their all to the council.