Instead of announcing the biggest council funding rise for over a decade, Exeter City Council’s press team marked budget day by celebrating Exeter’s latest quarterly YouGov popularity rating. The Paris Street PR machine forgot to mention that those surveyed need never have visited the city.
In contrast, the University of Exeter comms team isn’t so keen on topping league tables, at least when it comes to ranking VC remuneration. It wants to get ahead of an Office for Students report expected later this month in which it is likely to figure prominently after Steve Smith received an £830,000 pay package in his final year on the job (2019-20).
The pitch is his “extraordinary success” during his eighteen years at the university, and an “exceptional” bonus-based incentive scheme reflecting the “value and importance” of his experience and expertise.
Many of the university’s teaching staff might see the situation differently: by 2016-17 (the last year short term academic employees were included in HESA statistics) the university had become the sixth most insecure employer in the Russell Group, with 64% of all academic staff employed on insecure contracts.
His successor Lisa Roberts might also feel short-changed on her £275,000 salary, although this still places her firmly in the global top 1%. Perhaps the university is planning to donate the difference to local communities as part of its new “civic university agreement”?
Meanwhle, at the other end of the scale the TUC has published the results of a poll which found that nearly a quarter of key public sector workers in the South West are “actively considering” quitting their jobs because of low pay and excessive workloads.
No such ignominy for Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox, whose escapades in exotic locations must by now be familiar to most of his constituents.
One Exeter Observer journalist, who has been examining income disparities across the county, found herself asking whether he could be single-handedly responsible for Torridge’s mysteriously high average wages. Presumably not, if his staunch defence of tax havens is anything to go by.