The gravy train

7th September 2001 at 01:00
IF Sir Neil McIntosh's report on chief executive's salaries (page three) can be criticised for anything, it would be for caution. The headline 18 per cent increase for the chief executive of Glasgow would produce a salary of pound;135,000. This is for someone in charge of a budget of almost pound;900 million. If the 18 per cent rise was applied to Glasgow's director of education, responsible for more than 300 schools, his salary would be pound;114,000. These figures are in striking contrast to Glasgow University whose principal earns pound;148,000 to look after a single institution with a budget of pound;230 million.

There are only two solutions to this issue - make an intelligent attempt to establish the relative worth of public sector posts or let the market decide. The latter seemed to be the position of one commentator this week who made the rather fatuous comparison with performing artistes (he could have added footballers) who earn fabulously more than their bosses and administrators. Well, some do. The ensuing chaos would certainly keep teacher union conferences going for an entire decade, as teachers and heads cherry-picked plum postings leaving the educational equivalents of Cowdenbeath FC to struggle on as best they may.

The McIntosh report has not in fact calculated salaries for chief executives by linking them to headteachers' awards. It has set a minimum 10 per cent differential between heads and their directors and added a similar gap between directors and chief executives to provide some headroom in the smallest authorities. In the excitable reaction, it is easy to overlook the fact that nothing has been negotiated yet. The McIntosh proposals are simply there to inform the negotiations.

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