Northern Ireland news

Antrim council chief takes pay cut amid staff redundancy plans

Jacqui Dixon, chief executive of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council
Brendan Hughes

A COUNCIL chief executive has taken a voluntary pay cut amid plans for dozens of staff redundancies due to financial pressures during the Covid-19 crisis.

Jacqui Dixon, chief executive of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, is among several senior staff to have voluntarily reduced their wages.

The local authority is planning to make redundant the equivalent of 68 full-time posts in the coming months.

Trade union representatives warn that with many employed part-time or job-sharing, up to 180 workers could be affected.

Ms Dixon's salary is between £103,000 and £111,000. It is believed she has reduced her pay by 10 per cent, potentially for this financial year.

The council has five directors with salaries between £82,000 and £87,000, with one receiving an extra £5,000 for the role of deputy chief executive.

A council spokesman said: "In recent months the chief executive and a number others took the decision to reduce their own pay on a voluntary basis."

The council refused to confirm the level of pay reduction, how many have reduced their pay, or over what period of time this will last.

Antrim and Newtownabbey has said its redundancy plans are in response to the "economic crisis arising from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic".

It said spending cuts were "reluctantly agreed", but claimed not imposing them would have meant a 25 per cent increase in rates bills.

The north's 10 other councils were asked if their senior staff would similarly consider reducing their wages voluntarily.

Causeway Coast and Glens said that while not directly linked to the pandemic, its chief executive has declined salary increases on three occasions since 2015.

Responding on behalf of councils, the Northern Ireland Local Government Association said: "Chief executive salaries in Northern Ireland councils were set independently as part of a robust job evaluation during local government reform in 2013, they are benchmarked against other comparable public sector posts and are proportionately lower on all levels than is the case in England, Scotland and Wales."

It said the pandemic has been a "particularly challenging time for councils financially" and they have all "had to make difficult decisions around services, investment and staffing".

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