Liverpool City Council: Fifth commissioner appointed to oversee finances will be paid £1,100 a day

A fifth commissioner has been appointed to oversee part of Liverpool City Council.

A new government finance commissioner has today been appointed to oversee the financial decisions of Liverpool City Council.

Appointed by Levelling Up Secretary, Michael Gove, Stephen Hughes will join four other commissioners, appointed in 2021.

It is expected that for performing his new role as one of five government officials overseeing the local authority, Mr Hughes will receive £1,100 a day – paid for by ta payers. This is the same rate of pay handed to three existing commissioners, while lead commissioner Mike Cunningham is paid £1200 a day for his work.

According to a letter from Maxwell Soule, Deputy Director at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, to Theresa Grant, Liverpool Council’s interim Chief Executive, Mr Hughes will work just three days a week.

It was revealed this morning that government commissioners at the Cunard Building, led by Mr Cunningham, will also be handed new powers over governance, recruitment and financial decision-making at the council. The letter to Ms Grant, made public by the Government, said Secretary of State Michael Gove, was “mindful of the need for commissioner remuneration to represent value for money for local taxpayers.”

It added that the instructions given to the council by Whitehall require the commissioners to be paid “reasonable expenses and such fees as the Secretary of State determines to be paid to them.” With this in mind, the nature and scale of the intervention were the determining the day rates set for Mr Hughes’ work.

Earlier this year, councillors reacted angrily to the commissioners’ fees being uplifted from £800 and £700 a day to £1,200 and £1,100. Mayor of Liverpool Joanne Anderson said she was “appalled” by the “extreme rise in costs” and questioned how it can be described as ‘best value’ for the taxpayers of the city.

Opposition leader Richard Kemp agreed, describing the sudden increase as “unmitigated greed at a time of pay restraint in the public sector.” The pay rises were backdated to June last year, with commissioners expected to be in post for three years in total.

The new directions imposed on Liverpool by the government require the council to provide commissioners with “such reasonable amenities, services and administrative support as the commissioners may reasonably require to undertake their functions and responsibilities”. In his letter, Mr Soule said as Mr Gove had laid out in his own correspondence to Mr Cunningham, “the financial stability of the authority remains a concern.

“It is vital that urgent action is taken so that the whole council understands the progress that needs to be made and takes steps to prudently address the financial challenges and set a balanced budget for 2023/24, as part of a more robust Medium Term Financial Strategy.”