A SAFEGUARDING expert who chairs two boards in Worcestershire was paid more than £75,000 in the last two and a half years, despite only working five days a month.

Derek Benson, who chairs both of the county’s safeguarding boards, has claimed almost £4,800 in travel expenses despite taking home more £500-a-day and £600-a-day for each role.

Mr Benson, who was deputy chief constable of Essex Police before taking up the safeguarding role, chairs both adult and children boards in Worcestershire despite living 130 miles away in Hemel Hempstead. He also juggles chairing similar boards in the Isle of Wight and Hampshire.

According to figures revealed by a freedom of information request, Mr Benson, who began chairing the Worcestershire board in April 2016, has been paid £49,300 for working approximately three days a month as well as a further £4,150 in travel and expenses.

Mr Benson has also been paid £19,200 for chairing the county’s safeguarding adults board since October 2017 for working around two days a month. He has also received more than £3,000 in travel and other expenses. His role is funded by Worcestershire County Council, the CCGs and the police.

Kidderminster councillor Fran Oborski, chairman of the council’s children and families overview and scrutiny panel, said the role needed someone properly qualified and impartial.

She said: “If you pay peanuts you get monkeys. I think there is, unfortunately, a very limited pool of people who are qualified to do this job across the whole of the country and I think we absolutely have to make sure that person is highly qualified. “I have quite a lot to do with Derek and I have never found any reason to question his judgement.”

Councillor Andy Roberts, cabinet member for children and families, said Mr Benson chaired large meetings involving a lot of people and agencies. He added: “It is quite a difficult team to keep together which he does admirably and he is very conscientious. He has made quite a difference and he has helped us move forward.”

A County Council spokesman said: “The independent chair of both boards plays a critical role to lead collaboratively, give advice, support and encouragement and also offers constructive challenge and holds main partner agencies to account, whilst also acting as a spokesperson for the board. The post is not full-time and the chair’s salary is comparable with other areas of the country.”