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Coffee House

If Eric Pickles is cutting the town hall rich list, here are the Tories to talk to

10 May 2013

5:36 PM

10 May 2013

5:36 PM

Eric Pickles is a driven man on a mission to slash spending and waste in local government. As the latest round of budget cuts just enacted highlights, Pickles has managed to keep the local government spending bill under control, but how successful has he been in curbing the often-controversial top executive pay in the public sector?

In their detailed annual Town Hall Rich List, the Taxpayers’ Alliance reports that despite finding the first drop in the number of town hall staff earning more than £100,000 since 2007, 2,525 staffers are still earning more than £100,000 a year. 103 councils managed to hire more staff in this pay bracket last year and Birmingham City Council even doubled their quota. Are these councils ratcheting up upping their pay packets run by Tory friends or Labour foes of the government?

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Examining the Taxpayers’ Alliance data, seven out of the ten top councils ranked by top pay are Conservative-run administrations while Labour controls just three:

Council No of staff > £100k Top staff bill No of staff > £150k

Camden

40 £4,956,786 8

Essex

36 £4,786,996 9

Wandsworth

33 £5,148,212 16

Barnet

28 £3,959,492 10

Hampshire

28 £3,584,618 6

Westminster

27 £3,671,036 6

Cheshire West and Chester

27 £3,238,991 2

Glasgow

27 £5,870,608 17

Birmingham

24 £3,264,638 6

Greater London Authority

24 £3,063,347 2

As the table above shows, at number one Labour Camden Council spends £5 million on the 40 staff in this pay bracket while Conservative Essex Council comes in a close second with a bill of £4.8 million for their 36 executives. Both also have a handful of staff topping this, with some staff earning in excess of £150,000. One can see see why Labour councillors might rebel against Pickles’ orders to clamp down on pay, but not Conservatives who should be on the side of austerity.

While council funding continues to be squeezed, those on such high levels of pay are obvious targets for cuts over key services. Eric Pickles’ agenda has been partially successful in this regard – a significant proportion of the 2012 pay bills are made up of redundancy payments as management teams are reconfigured for this brave new world. Derek Myers, head of both the Conservative-led Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea councils, still managed to pocket £266,911 last year without any redundancy monies.

As Conservative-led administrations dominate the upper echelons of this year’s town hall rich list, the Communities Secretary might want to have a word with his own party about the most effective use of their limited taxpayer funds and getting on board his best-value drive in local government.

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