Sunday Herald

August 30, 2009 Sunday

Final Edition

Anger as Strathclyde Police chief constable awarded GBP65,000 in perks;

MSPs criticise payouts after boss paid for hitting targets he helped set



LENGTH: 685 words


THE chief constable of Scotland's largest police force was awarded nearly GBP65,000 worth of perks on top of his GBP170,000 a year salary.

Stephen House, of Strathclyde Police, received a bonus, a housing allowance and even a council tax subsidy last year. The taxpayer also footed the tax bill for his private use of a car.

The payouts have been criticised by MSPs, with one calling for a review of public-sector pay and expenses.

Mr House, who joined Strathclyde Police from London's Metropolitan force in 2007, is the UK's fourth-best paid police chief on GBP169,584 a year.

Strathclyde Police confirmed he received a GBP25,150 performance-related bonus last year for hitting targets he helped set. The bonus is worth around 15per cent of the chief constable's salary.

This was on top of GBP15,448 in relocation expenses and a "rent allowance" of GBP5410.

Mr House also benefited from temporary accommodation and counciltax costs worth GBP17,426, which covered 16 months from November 2007.

In addition, the force paid GBP1248.25 to meet the tax liability for his "private miles" on a car.

The total perks package came to GBP64,682, which took Mr House's remuneration last year to GBP234,257.

The Lothian and Borders, Central Scotland, Dumfries and Galloway, and Fife forces were among those contacted by the Sunday Herald that confirmed their chief constables did not receive bonuses last year.

Mr House and his four deputies reportedly pocketed bonuses of GBP95,786 last year. From tomorrow, Mr House's salary will be increased to GBP173,994.

Bill Kidd, an SNP MSP in Glasgow, said: "We have to hire the best people for Strathclyde Police, but at the same time everyone has to cut their cloth to the current circumstances.

"When you are already on GBP169,000 a year, you do not need a bonus to do the job. This is another example of a public servant being paid extra to do a job they are already being paid handsomely to do."

Patrick Harvie, the Green MSP for Glasgow, said: "People are increasingly concerned about the increasing inequalities in society, whether that is MPs' pay and expenses, bankers' bonuses, or pay at the top of the public sector. We are calling on the Scottish government to review pay and expenses across the whole public sector, with an emphasis on social equality, and with consideration to be given to options like maximum pay ratios."

Details of the extra payments for Mr House come weeks after it was revealed Strathclyde Police Authority, which oversees the force's finances, had put itself on a collision course with the Scottish government over claims of a GBP35 million funding decit.

The black hole, if it materialises, could jeopardise First Minister Alex Salmond's promise of recruiting 1000 extra police ofcers throughout Scotland.

Strathclyde Police is the country's largest force, with more than 8000 ofcers working the beat, and admits the largest number of recruits annually.

One source told the Sunday Herald the only way of plugging the budget deficit would be to reduce the force's manpower, code for job losses.

The police authority's warnings of a black hole have led to fears job losses may be inevitable and reduce the number of police on the beat. There is also a possibility cuts could affect police vehicles, computers and investigations.

Councillor Paul Rooney, the authority convener, said of the nancial problems:

" The authority has some very dif cult decisions to make in terms of how we plug this massive funding gap. Even if tougher efciency savings are considered the gap remains signicant."

According to the authority, Strathclyde's decit could reach GBP66.6m by 2013.

Mr Rooney said: "The payment of bonuses and expenses to senior ofcers are made strictly in accordance with guidance set out by the Police Negotiating Board."

David Miller, a sociology professor at Strathclyde University, said: "Unless there is transparency on all the perks available the police cannot be held properly accountable. Public opinion is already concerned about the expenses and allowances of MPs. When publicsector pay is under pressure it is diffcult to defend banker-style bonuses."