George Osborne has given the adviser responsible for his new image a promotion and a pay rise of more than 40%, and boosted the number of his political aides by three while asking public-sector workers to accept a pay freeze.
Thea Rogers, a close associate of Osborne, received the biggest rise among all the political special advisers across government, an increase of 42% since the figures were released last November, giving her £98,000. She is now his chief of staff.
A former BBC producer who once worked with the corporation’s former political editor Nick Robinson, she is said to have been responsible for Osborne’s Caesar-style haircut and for placing him on the 5:2 diet. A year ago, she acted as a special adviser, handling his image and events.
A year ago Osborne employed three special advisers and had four more political appointees sitting on his council of advisers. Since then, advisers hired by the chancellor include James Chapman, the Daily Mail’s political editor until the election, who is now paid £125,000; and Sue Beeby, who previously worked for Jeremy Hunt and is being paid £73,000 to be part of the Treasury team.
Osborne has three other people employed in his office whose pay levels are not registered. Another special adviser to Osborne, Eleanor Wolfson, is currently on maternity leave, a footnote adds.
The footnote to the data also shows that the chancellor has taken on three other politically employed advisers who sit on the council of economic advisers – Richard Davies, who is paid £98,000; Neil O’Brien, who is paid £93,450; and Jennifer Donne, whose pay is not registered.
The disclosure comes in data that shows the bill for special advisers across the government rose to £9.2m in 2014-15, up from £8.4m the previous financial year.
Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, said: “David Cameron can’t bury the fact that he’s broken a direct promise he made to reduce the cost of politics and curb the number of special advisers in government.”
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