Big-money salaries paid out at Northumberland County Council will need to be voted on by councillors under proposed new rules.

The council’s new pay policy statement would see posts attracting salaries of more than £100,000 go through full council. This would include salary decisions as well as any other fees, allowances, bonuses and benefits in kind that the post holder would be entitled to on a routine basis.

The 2023 annual Town Hall Rich List complied by the Taxpayer’s Alliance showed that Northumberland paid out more remuneration packages of over £100,000 than any other local authority in the North East. Since then, the council has made changes to top teams that have brought the wage bill down.

READ MORE: Council bosses decide not to renew Active Northumberland's contract

The pay policy will also require the council to publish details of all salaries above £50,000 by job title, with heads of service and above also including the officer’s name.

The pay policy was discussed by members of the council’s staff and appointments committee on Thursday (February 8). At the other end of the scale, Labour leader Cllr Scott Dickinson raised a concern about lower salaries in the council’s pay structure.

He said: “Band 1.2 in the pay structure is £22,366 which works out at only slightly more than the minimum wage. I can’t even think of a role that would be banded at that.

“I thought we had, as a council, looked to pay the living wage?”

The Government’s National Living Wage, essentially the minimum wage, currently stands at £10.42 per hour, while the council’s lowest pay band would work out at £10.75 an hour based on a 40-hour working week. The Real Living Wage, set by the Living Wage Foundation, currently stands at £12 an hour.

In 2022, the council approved proposals to give extra funding care providers so that they would pay staff a level equivalent to the Real Living Wage as set by the Living Wage Foundation. At the time, that equated to £9.90 an hour.

The deputy leader of the council, Cllr Richard Wearmouth, confirmed that the council had pledged to do this. He said: “We did. We can look at that, Councillor Dickinson.”

Figures seen by the Local Democracy Reporting Service show that there are 201 staff in the council in pay band 1 and 675 in schools, with the roles covering cleaners, catering staff and lunchtime staff.