Back office troubleshooter at Northamptonshire County Council earns £1,220 a day

A troubleshooter at One Angel Square is on a 1,220-a-day wage.
A troubleshooter at One Angel Square is on a 1,220-a-day wage.

A troubleshooter brought in to run Northamptonshire County Council’s shared services partnership is being paid £1,220 a day.

Sarah Homer is receiving the daily payments to run LGSS, the shared services organisation that delivers a number of services for the Northants council in league with Cambridgeshire County Council and Milton Keynes Council.

The experienced local government troubleshooter was appointed on February 12 this year, just ten days after the authority issued a section 114 notice, meaning that it was in severe financial trouble and could not balance its books.

According to the county council’s accounts for 2017/18 Sarah Homer was paid £41,480 for working 34 days from February 12th to March 31st.

Labour county councillor Danielle Stone has blasted the pay as ‘completely disproportionate’.

She said: “I think this pay level is completely out of order. I have been asking questions about LGSS. There is too much costly senior management across the county council and this takes money away from frontline services.”

In 2015 Sarah Homer was parachuted in to Birmingham City Council to bring about a ‘cultural transformation’’ following the damning Kerslake review which said the authority was failing to get basic services right. Her £1,100 a day salary and the process to recruit her was condemned by the council’s opposition conservative group.

LGSS was set up by the authority in 2010 and was criticised in a best value report by government inspector Max Caller who said that ‘there would be benefit in reviewing the relationship between NCC and LGSS to ensure there was clearer accountability’.

It is understood that a report into the performance and governance of LGSS has been commissioned by Sarah Homer and will be made public soon.

The shared services organisation was run from 2013 to February 2018 by John Kane. He received a £152,000 salary and recently retired with a £66,000 payment for loss of office and payment in lieu of notice.

Northants county council is the only authority to issue a 114 notice in the past 20 years and its head of finance Mark McLaughlin says that another may be issued this year. The authority has to make £35m of savings this year and also has to repay £13m it took from general reserves to balance its budget in April.

The council’s auditors KPMG have suggested that the declaration of a balanced budget made by NCC last month could have been wrong and is instead suggesting it has a £58m overspend. It will produce its final audit report in coming weeks.