A reorganisation at the top of the Legal Ombudsman could cost the profession an extra £90,000 a year in managers’ salaries, the Gazette can reveal.
The Office for Legal Complaints (OLC) this month started advertising for the posts of both chief executive and chief ombudsman.
These functions were both performed by Adam Sampson until his resignation in November 2014, after which the job was split into two parts under interim managers. That structure will be retained under new permanent managers.
According to the job advertisements, the new chief executive will earn up to £120,000 a year and the chief ombudsman up to £101,500.
This combined salary of £221,500 is well above the £130,972 salary plus pension and other benefits of around £36,000 earned by Sampson, according to the LeO 2013/14 annual accounts. The current advert does not mention pension benefits.
Even if both new recruits receive the minimum salary on offer, their combined pay will come to £188,275.
The chief executive will manage the chief ombudsman, who will be responsible for running the ombudsman scheme.
The job specification for the chief executive’s role calls for ‘proven leadership, vision, strategic-thinking and decision-making abilities’, as well as a ‘robust approach’ to financial management and ‘personal probity which is above reproach’.
Steve Green, OLC chair, said: ‘In order to ensure sound financial oversight of the Legal Ombudsman scheme, and in light of recent governance issues adversely impacting its reputation, we’ve decided to separate the chief ombudsman and chief executive roles.
‘We want to attract candidates of the highest calibre to help drive the scheme forward; the lesson we’ve learnt is that these roles are distinct specialisms and require to be treated as such if we want to bring in people with the right skill set.
‘We have a duty to our customers to ensure that the responsibilities associated with these roles are appropriately managed.’
The new additions come as part of a completely new management team at the ombudsman’s Birmingham headquarters. Posts for head of policy, research and communications, and head of IT, both receiving between £68,000 and £80,000, were advertised this week, while a new finance manager is also being recruited on up to £52,000 a year.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed by LeO, in response to a freedom of information request by the Gazette, that Sampson was paid for six months after the date of his resignation. This pay is thought to total £65,486.
The ombudsman’s office said it would provide further details of this arrangement when the accounts for 2014/15 are published.
Sampson resigned over questions raised during an audit of 2013/14 accounts which found issues over expenses payments he had received during his time in the job. A request for information on how much he has since repaid was rejected on the grounds this information will be included in the accounts.
A full review of travel expenses expenditure has been carried and found that ‘no other staff were identified as claiming outside of the policy arrangements’.