Funding agency reveals wage bill

The quango which finances grant-maintained schools last year paid its staff nearly #163;7 million in wages and pensions.

The pay-out by the Funding Agency for Schools was almost #163; 500,000 more than the previous year. The agency, whose 340 staff administer the Conservatives' flagship policy, is to be abolished on April 1.

Details of the 1997-98 wage bill for the agency are revealed in its just-published annual report. It discloses that Michael Collier, chief executive, received a #163; 110,000 package, while one director earned between #163;65,000 and #163;69,999.

Mr Collier's package comprised a #163;78,000 salary, performance-related pay of #163;15,000, employer contributions of a further #163;15,000 to the civil service pension scheme and a taxable benefit of Pounds 2,000 in respect of a loan. His contract, renewed in April last year, is for three years.

Sir Christopher Benson, the former part-time chairman, was paid #163;18,000 for a two-day week.

Sir Anthony Tippet, the retired vice-admiral who is its current chairman and who also chairs the forum of one of the first education action zones, received #163;15,000 plus #163;2,000 in expenses.

Board members claimed fees of #163;64,000 - #163;4,000 less than entitled - and #163;30,000 in expenses for attending 438 meetings. All members, with the exception of the chairman, are entitled to claim a daily allowance of #163;155.

A comparison for 1996-97 shows that members attended 369 meetings and claimed #163;49,000 in fees and #163;17,000 in expenses. There was a 42 per cent increase in the fees and expenses paid to members over the year.

Last month redundancy notices were sent out to 120 of the 340 staff at the agency's York headquarters.

Around 25 key workers have been offered incentives worth thousands of pounds to stay until the end. Most involve increasing redundancy from three to six months' annual pay, working out in some cases to #163;8,000 extra.

Staff have been told by the Department for Education and Employment that they will be shown no favouritism. A comprehensive skills audit has been undertaken of their qualifications, experience and expertise, and the agency has been providing its staff with training in self-marketing, CV building and interviewing skills.

Income for the year ending March 1998 was just over #163;2,000 million, most of which related to grants to GM schools. The remaining #163; 13.2m related to the agency's operating costs.

There was an operating surplus of #163;11.2m and the agency had net assets of #163;22. 1m.

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