Local councils have been told by ministers they must do more to curb the pay of senior staff following the release of figures showing more than 28,000 local government employees receiving over £50,000 a year.
The TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA), which campaigns for lower taxes, calculated at least 28,754 staff working for councils across the UK received remuneration in excess of £50,000 last year at a cost of almost £1.9 billion.
The figure represents a drop of 3,991 staff on the previous year, with the total cost down by £270 million.
The TPA said the fall in part reflected the large number of redundancy payments made in 2010/11, which temporarily increased remuneration bills.
Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said the findings showed local authorities still had "massive scope" to cut costs to protect frontline services.
He said: "For too long the senior local government pay bill has spiralled up and up and taxpayers have been left footing the bill.
"Whilst I commend those councils taking action, there are still many others failing to get a grip on costs.
"This report exposes the fact that town halls still have massive scope to make sensible savings to protect important frontline services and freeze council tax."
TPA chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: "Taxpayers are still paying far too much for bloated bureaucracies that have been established in too many town halls over the last decade.
"Councillors need to insist that their local authority does more to find savings and cut back on staff costs that residents cannot afford."