The boss of a Devon council won’t take his full salary increase because he thinks it is unfair on other staff.

Nonetheless, South Hams District Council’s chief executive Andy Bates, could still get a £7,500 rise – or six per cent – of his £125,000 salary.

As the most senior official on South Hams District Council (SHDC) he says he doesn’t want to take a bigger percentage pay rise than the lowest paid worker.

Mr Bates, who also head West Devon Borough Council, was speaking at a South Hams executive meeting on Thursday [2 March] to discuss pay and employee retention. 

An independent report by the Local Government Association to senior councillors recommended all council staff should receive pay increases of not less than six per cent. 

But Mr Bates insisted: “Actually for those staff in the lower bands, typically they will be receiving a pay increase of between nine and 12 per cent.”

He explained how the recommendations in the report would “result in a seven per cent increase for directors and, indeed, myself.” 

But Mr Bates, whose salary is currently £125,150 insisted he did not wish to receive a higher percentage increase than workers in lower bands. 

“In the event that the executive choose to agree this – and indeed councillors choose to agree this – it’s my intention that I should cap an increase to six per cent. 

“I think it’s appropriate you shouldn’t be paying your senior team more than you’re paying your staff.”

Lib Dem councillor for Stokenham, Julian Brazil welcomed the comments by Mr Bates but said he hoped the decision wouldn’t lead to much bigger pay rises in future. 

“I do not believe that senior management, however wonderful they are, should be paid disproportionately more than people out there at the coalface delivering the services that our people want us to do.” 

The chief executive’s salary can only be decided by full council on the recommendation of the leader after taking appropriate advice.  

The Local Government Chronicle’s (LGC) salary tracker, published earlier this month, showed between February 2020 and January 2022, the average salary for a new chief executive was £154,764.