Echo comment on Ben Houchen’s rejection of a pay rise. Would you?

Is his recent headline about how he would reject a pay rise if given one a sensitive gesture at a time when many taxpayers are suffering from cost-of-living pressures, or is it actually just smart populist politics?

Or is it reckless? What’s the saying about paying peanuts and getting monkeys? The Tees Valley Mayor’s salary of £65,000 is the lowest in the country – Sadiq Khan in London is paid £154,963 – and is certainly well below the income of our top civil servants who run our health services and prisons (not particularly well), etc .or are even at the top level of our local councils.

Is the Tees Valley wise to allow its salary to lag so far behind other mayors? Shouldn’t the Tees Valley want the best and therefore pay the highest price?

And yet in an area like ours, where the average salary is under £30,000, £65,000 is still a lot for most people.

Perhaps the conservative Mr Houchen would have been seen as a hypocrite if he had accepted a large increase at a time when his party was calling for worker restraint to combat inflation.

Or Mr Houchen could be seen as striking a blow at a worrying culture that allows top executives to earn stratospheric salaries – as did the NatWest bank boss who was forced to resign justifying a £5.2m annual pay package Lb? – while everyone else struggles with inflation falling short as interest rates rise.

Of course, we all know that Mr. Houchen acts politically, and anyone who opposes him will be asked embarrassing questions about whether he too will refuse a raise, but we suspect that many people have some sympathy for him, at least on this issue will be cherished.


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