AN INTERIM housing director is costing taxpayers £1,200 per day.

The leader of Brighton and Hove City Council confirmed the sum at a meeting on Thursday.

Larissa Reed left the post as executive director of neighbourhoods, communities and housing a year ago. The Tories estimate her interim replacement, found through an agency, has cost residents £156,000 in six months.

Conservative finance spokesman Councillor Joe Miller said the figure was indefensible to taxpayers.

He said: “There are many local people in Brighton and Hove on low incomes who are having to foot this bill.

“Labour’s mismanagement of staff will put a dent in the city’s budget and put services at risk.

“The council leader’s attempt to shift the blame to Covid-19 doesn’t stack up.

“While she says it is too difficult to recruit a full-time person to the position, other councils have had no trouble recruiting throughout the period.

“There has been a notably high turnover of staff under the Labour administration and taxpayers are paying the price for Labour’s poor management.”

The figure is made up of a £999 payment to agency Penna, with 20 per cent VAT.

The council claims VAT can be “disregarded” as it is claimed back.

There have been a number of interim directors since last summer, the most recent being Rachel Sharpe. The role oversees council house building, tackling rogue landlords and working to prevent homelessness.

The council said in October that final interviews for the post would be taking place in early December with a candidate being chosen in spring this year.

Conservative Group spokeswoman on housing Mary Mears said the sum was excessive and could have been spent on basic maintenance required by the city’s tenants and leaseholders.

She said: “£1,200 a day for six months could fix a lot of maintenance issues for tenants and leaseholders waiting for basic maintenance on their properties.

“The administration could have acted up a senior housing officer for six months to give them more experience whilst improving the service that tenants and leaseholders are asking for.”

The council said due to intricacies in the interim contract, the role only costs £10,000 than if it had a permanent person in post.

A spokesman said: “The cost to the council for our interim executive director, housing, neighbourhoods and communities is £999 [a day] but this is inclusive of payment for annual leave or other time off (including sickness).

“Over the course of the six-month contract this will cost the council approximately £10,000 more than a permanent executive director.”

He said they aimed to fill vacancies on a permanent basis but were unable to in this case so “have had internal cover arrangements in place that have made significant savings”.

He said: “The council has been leading the response to Covid-19 and it is felt that some additional senior management capacity is essential at this time, particularly following the departure of Pinaki Ghoshal. Pinaki was covering the housing brief whilst another senior manager in the council covered the children’s role. The chief executive is due imminently to consult on changes to the council’s senior management structure. Until this process is complete, it’s prudent to wait to fill director vacancies with permanent staff.”