19 September 2008
Local Government Association Liberal Democrat group leader Richard Kemp has criticised proposals from his party's shadow chancellor to slash the pay of top public sector professionals.
Vince Cable's keynote speech at the Liberal Democrat conference on September 15 argued for urgent reform of a public sector that is 'bloated, over-centralised, incompetent and unaccountable'.
He told delegates that: 'The correct way is to... require every non-frontline public sector employee on £100,000 or more to reapply for their jobs. Those allowed back would take a cut in pay and public sector pension entitlement.'
But, talking to Public Finance, Kemp rejected the idea. 'The mechanism he's chosen is, unfortunately, bonkers,' he said. 'The major problem is that it's illegal.'
He agreed with the principle behind the Cable proposal of holding people to account, but added that council bosses were already under sufficient scrutiny. 'In my view, local authority chief executives are probably the most exposed offices anywhere in the public sector,' he said. 'There's a world of difference between a local authority chief executive whom everyone knows, and a chief executive of one of the quangos, whom no one knows at all.' The conference also hosted the launch of a party-wide debate on localism, which will involve about 100 meetings with councillor groups by the next LibDem conference in the spring. 'It's an attempt to engage the whole of the party,' said Kemp.