Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Council 'rich list' of top salaries

Notes and coins on a payslip. Inflation fell for the sixth month in succession in March paving the way for an end to the prolonged squeeze on wages, official figures showed today.

More than 2,000 council employees are making more than £100,000 a year, according to new research by the TaxPayers' Alliance.

The 2012-13 Town Hall Rich List identified at least 2,181 staff who received total remuneration in excess of the six-figure mark, a 5% drop on the previous year's figure of 2,295.

But despite the national fall, the research found 93 councils had increased the number of staff making more than £100,000 in the same time period.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the alliance, said it was "good news" the figure was falling but suggested it might only be because many authorities had finished paying "eye-watering" redundancy bills.

He added: "Sadly, too many local authorities are still increasing the number of highly paid staff on their payroll. It's particularly galling in places where councils are pleading poverty and demanding more and more in council tax.

"Taxpayers expect their council to be filling potholes, not pay packets.

"Many rank-and-file staff in local councils will be equally appalled - at a time when councils across the country are freezing pay, it appears the money they're saving is being used to line the pockets of town hall tycoons."

The list also identified 542 council employees who received remuneration of more than £150,000 in 2012-13. Of these, 34 made more than £250,000 a year.

It found the council with the most employees in receipt of remuneration or more than £100,000 was Glasgow with 32. Its then executive director of social care services David Crawford, who received £486,303, was the council employee with the largest remuneration package in the UK. This included a redundancy payment.

The largest remuneration package in London in 2012-13 went to Paul Martin, chief executive of Wandsworth Council, who received £274,224.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said he welcomed the research, but added: " While it shows the cost of senior town hall pay is falling, there is still far more that local authorities can do to cut costs through consolidation of back offices, sharing services and greater transparency.

"This Government has taken steps to open up the secret pay deals struck behind closed doors and given elected councillors new powers to veto excessive pay and perks.

"But councillors now need to use these powers and stand up for local taxpayers."

Simon Danczuk, who sits on the communities and local government select committee which is investigating chief officer pay, said the latest town hall rich list figures were a concern.

Mr Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale, said: "Senior council officers have got to show restraint.

"I'm of the view that some of these officers should take a dramatic cut in their salary. Between the best and least-paid workers on some councils the gap is growing too far and this is not acceptable.

"Working for local authorities is about public service and these figures suggest that some are there just for the money.

"We all know there are some great officers in local government - Sir Howard Bernstein at Manchester Council is one example. But there are too many cases where salaries do not match performance and we're rewarding mediocrity."

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