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Culture change boss ‘costing Birmingham council £1100 a day’

Culture change boss ‘costing Birmingham council £1100 a day’

🕔30.Jan 2015

Birmingham city council is paying £1,100 a day for the services of Sarah Homer, the senior director appointed to oversee a post-Kerslake culture change, the Chamberlain Files can reveal.

Ms Homer, who is the interim director of service delivery, is not employed directly by the council but works for Green Park, a London-based executive search agency which specialises in finding recruits for top jobs in the public and private sector.

A Birmingham council spokesperson confirmed the figure paid to Green Park on Saturday morning.

The figure of £1,100 a day is the subject of fevered discussion among a few council staff in the know. It is unclear whether the figure includes an agency fee, or is solely the amount paid to Ms Homer.

Under regulations approved by the Government the council must publish all items of expenditure over £500 so the fees paid to Green Park this month should feature in the breakdown of accounts for January, which can be accessed via the council website. This may explain why the Council confirmed the figure and the fact Ms Homer is employed by Green Park after Chamberlain Files first published.

Green Park describes itself as “acknowledged international tier one suppliers in the Interim Management field”. The company website states: “We have the resources and expertise to connect you to the right people for whatever role you need to fill. Backed by our esteemed reputation and a shelf of gleaming industry awards, we thrive on finding the perfect fit for every one of our 300+ clients.

“You might be familiar with a few of our partners: BP, Centrica Virgin Media, New Look, Burberry, Jack Wills, The White Company, Selfridges, Lloyd’s Banking Group, HSBC, The Co-operative Group, Welsh Government, HMRC, to name a few.”

The website features a list of interim posts available across the country ranging from £1,000 a day for an Interim Head of Reward to £1,750 a day for an Interim Chief Commercial Officer.

Ms Homer, who previously worked for American Express and Hogg Robinson, has been handed wide-ranging duties as head of Birmingham council’s corporate centre.

She will take leadership of the Future Council Programme which covers the redesign of support services, development of a workforce strategy particularly addressing the challenges around the recruitment and retention of children’s social workers and developing a new model for city devolution.

Ms Homer assumes operational leadership of the council’s HR department, which was heavily criticised by Kerslake, and the customer contact centre recently returned to local authority control from Service Birmingham.

She will also be responsible for overseeing procurement and commissioning, ICT strategy, policy, performance, communications and PR. The remit also includes the contractual oversight of the Service Birmingham partnership with Capita.

In his review Sir Bob Kerslake hit out at a “damaging combination of an absence of a strategic plan and the lack of corporate grip” which he said had resulted in a “multiplicity of strategies, plans and processes which has created unnecessary complexity and confusion”.

It’s not the first time the council has paid a large sum for an expert to help it out of a mess.

In 2010 it was revealed that Eleanor Brazil, the interim director at the children, young people and families department, was paid at the rate of about £1,000 a day. Ms Brazil was brought in to turn around failing children’s social services. However, by the time she left the department was still under Government special measures and deemed to be failing vulnerable children.

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