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pound;36,000 bonus for LSC chief

Union angry as FE funding body's staff pay rises are capped far below the inflation rate

UNION OFFICIALS have criticised the decision to increase the bonus payment of the head of the FE funding body and allow him to bank an extra pound;36,000 last year.

Mark Haysom, chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council, received the cash on top of his pound;206,000 salary during the last financial year, its accounts show. The LSC said the payment of a 17.5 per cent bonus reflected the fact that he and the organisation had exceeded their targets.

Bob Rollings, the industrial officer for the Public and Commercial Services union, said the bonus came at a time when staff were already demoralised after last year's 1,300 redundancies.

Now their pay rise is to be capped at 2 per cent, in line with the Government's attempt to halt pay inflation across the public sector. Inflation, including housing costs, is about 4 per cent.

"It's outrageous," Mr Rollings said. "We know we are going to be subjected to a treasury restriction on pay and they want to hold us down below 2 per cent. It's effectively a 2 per cent pay cut.

"Mark Haysom's bonus works out at a little more than 2 per cent.

"There's a massive sense of distrust of management."

There are also question marks over the LSC's performance, with the nationwide launch of the Government's flagship skills project Train to Gain failing to attract enough employers. The accounts show that about pound;90 million nearly a third of the entire budget was unused because businesses were slow in joining the scheme.

But the LSC points to other successes for the year. With 1.5 million teenagers studying, more people are staying on in education than ever before.

In 2006, 71.4 per cent achieved the equivalent of five good GCSEs, the Government's minimum standard for skilled employment in the future. This is a little more than 2 per cent over the LSC's target.

And over the past six years, 1,759,000 people have earned basic skills under the Skills for Life programme, beating the target for 2007 by 259,000.

The LSC is also claiming credit for averting an employment crisis in Birmingham following the closure of the MG Rover factory at Longbridge in 2005 with the loss of 6,100 jobs. By March this year, more than 5,300 people were back in work and off benefits, the LSC said. More than 3,300 had received retraining and 40 per cent said it helped them get back to work.

The bonus scheme for the chief executive proposes an extra payment of 15 per cent of the salary for meeting targets, and up to 22.5 per cent for exceeding them. Both the salary and the bonus payments of the LSC chief executive are set by the Secretary of State.

An LSC spokeswoman said: "The process is different to the LSC's employee bonus scheme and so cannot be compared as like for like.

"The expertise that Mark Haysom brings to the organisation is reflected in his salary. Delivering the country's skills needs is a huge job and requires the right calibre of person who can provide the expertise and leadership needed to guide the organisation through a crucial time for learning and skills.

"The LSC's report and accounts for 2006-07 shows an impressive record of achievement and the effective management of pound;10.7 billion spent on education and training for people in England aged over 16."

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