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?


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


40 £4,956,786 8


36 £4,786,996 9


33 £5,148,212 16


28 £3,959,492 10


28 £3,584,618 6


27 £3,671,036 6

Cheshire West and Chester

27 £3,238,991 2


27 £5,870,608 17


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.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.

Show comments
  • Daniel Maris

    A lesson in the value of the British public sector ethos….

    There was an interesting item on the radio today about how in China no one can trust the private sector or the government regarding food safety. It’s horrific. The goverment even let babies be poisoned rather than disturb the run up to the Beijing Olympics. And it has terrible effects on economic efficiency. The middle classes end up importing branded foods from abroad or waste their weekends growing their own food.

    This is a reminder of why in this country we are lucky to have such an excellent public sector ethos. It wasn’t always there – back in the 18th century the public sector was riddled with corruption to rival that in China today.

    This is something Osborne, Shapps, Pickles and you lot are out to destroy. You’ll be sorry when it’s gone…in fact it’s already nearly gone.

  • Abhay

    Shameful! Scandalous! Disgraceful! But not surprising.

    These are not people who are working in a pressure-cooker commercial environment who have to compete and show high performance. These are people who give us services of monopoly-mundane nature using state infrastructure.

    £100K is very, very decent. £150K is outrageous!! I am sure 25% of them can be done away with asap.

  • Colonel Mustard

    For once it really is a disgrace that so many council employees earn this amount funded by a mandatory tax for compulsory, non-competitive services delivered with unnecessary “marketing” and “propaganda” budgets.

    The crash and recession should have ended this largesse and cut councils to the bone.

  • Wessex Man

    Eric Pickles has always promised much and always delivered very little, as have so many in this blighted Government.

  • anneallan

    Last night, Look East interviewed locals, asking them how many County Council employees they thought earned over £100,000. None of the guesses reached double figures. The faces of the interviewees when told the true number said it all.

  • lgrundy

    According to THIS article in the Daily Mail, the Local Government Association are lobbying the Labour Party to remove the 25 per cent single person discount for those who live alone.

    They also want a future Labour government to repeal the requirement for councils to hold a referendum if they want to raise Council Tax. Apparently councils believe they should be able to raise CT by as much as they like.

    The LGA said “town halls should be given flexibility around income generation, including council tax”.

    Of course, the Labour Party will support this. Think of all the extra “investment” councils could pour into their ‘world class local services’ and how all that money would “stimulate” the local economy.

    It seems the next Labour government are going to double your Council Tax – just like the last one.

  • John Smith

    They are all as bad as each other. Most cllrs seem to go native as soon as they gain entry to the sweetie shop. The explosion of staffing, numbers, non jobs, salaries & pensions in Councils over the last 50 yrs has been worrying to behold. In tandem the efficiency and value for money for services has plummeted.
    – Is there not a better model to provide the few vital services in the 21 st century?

    • anneallan

      The problem is that many Conservative councillors go native; either because they adapt willingly to the cosy world or they are so dim that the bureaucrats can run rings round them.

      • alexsandr

        and they get nice ‘special responsibility’ payments

  • 2trueblue

    There is little comparison between jobs in councils and those in the private sector. In councils the money comes in year on year from those of us who pay our council tax, so the person in charge does not have to do much to generate the revenue which he then can spend. They can also set the level of that revenue. In the private sector the person in charge has to actually manage the company. There is this idea in the public sector that they are actually worth the salaries paid in the private sector, whilst not having the skills to do the job.

    • anneallan

      The private sector cannot raid our pockets under threat of imprisonment while denying us any choice of robber. Anyone can get money to pay sky high salaries under state sanctioned menaces.

      • 2trueblue


  • Russell

    All the fat little piggies just keep on troughing, whether in public services in councils, or in Quangos, or in the EU trough.
    Ably supported by their fellow piggies in the HoL, HoC or EU.

  • John

    I don’t think there is any excuse for Tory councils to be top of this list given the rhetoric. It’s not even really possible to argue they’re difficult areas which need to attract the best staff to solve dire social issues. So much for Conservative “efficiency”.

  • Daniel Maris

    What a joke! Usual TPA rubbish.

    1.Most of the councils are Tory-controlled from what I can recall.

    2. The TOTAL top staff bill for one of these councils is the sort of figure that the fairy folk in Bankland get individually for eating up all their breakfast.

    3. Local authorities are highly complex organisations often operating in far more difficult legal and financial environments than you’ll find in the private sector.
    They control budgets in the 100s of millions of £s. Many of those quoted will be well over £1 billion. So, why on earth wouldn’t you pay the top managers more than £150k. Remember – three times your salary – that will get you a modest 3 bed semi in a poorer part of London.

    4. Pickles hasn’t got a good idea in his teeny-weeny porcine cerebellum.

    • John

      1. Yup. Disgraceful.

      2. Since the gvt is as broke as it is don’t you think every penny matters? It’s also about the perception. Doesn’t help with “were all in it together” if council staff look to be raking it in.

      3. On your first point yes agreed. On your second, so what? It’s actually up to the government to be fixing the housing shortage to solve this problem. Secondly often private wages won’t match this. Thirdly having looked recently at house prices in the SE Good Lord I’m glad my career won’t require me to live there! Equally, if you’re a council executive and the living costs are too high you could always move somewhere else. Y’know like the bedroom tax/top benefits limit heathens are being told to.

      4. You may be right. Nothing teeny about him though, let’s be honest.

      • Daniel Maris

        This government has printed £360 billion via QE and most of that has gone to the banks, and finds its way into the swill trough for the little porkers.

        What is being referred to here is chicken feed.

        Name me one private sector business with a turnover of £1 billion whose CEO is paid less than £150K.

        Name me one Pickles idea that has actually succeeded. He’s no Gove, who at least has the odd bright idea.

        • Abhay

          Nobody can defend the crimes of the bankers. Its the same statists who allowed the banks to go berserk who have presided over this scandal. These are evidences of failure of the political class to keep compact with the ruled.

    • MichtyMe

      Also Daniel, as stated in the piece, a lot of this is not remuneration but is “significant proportion are made up of redundancy payments as management teams are reconfigured” Not very useful stuff.

  • Hookeslaw

    Oh to be a council official in the labour fiefdom of Glasgow.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Agreed. I would force all of them to re-apply for their own jobs at a maximum salary of £75,000. When greeted with the traditional: “I could earn three times my current salary in industry”, I would wish them good luck if they choose to follow that course while confirming that their new salary is £75,000 max. Amazing how few of these leeches earning say £250,000 actually manage to get that £750,000 job in ‘industry’.

      • James Strong

        Very few people really want the free market to work.
        For example,some high flying women want cheaper child-care, subsidised by the taxpayer, they don’t really want to pay the market rate.
        As with council officials, so with people wanting susidised child-care, challenge them to use the market; challenge those officials to go and get higher paying jobs in industry. They won’t be missed.

        • DWWolds

          You are describing the culture of entitlement nurtured by Labour. Unfortunately.

      • anneallan

        From experience, few people who have worked in the public sector transfer successfully to private businesses. Rather too much emphasis on clock watching and the minutiae of employment regulations and too little desire to roll up sleeves and get on with it. But then, if your job has never had the word ‘responsibility’ attached to it, working in a world where if you don’t pull your weight, your employer cannot continue, must be some culture shock.

        • rubyduck

          Bit of a late response but …

          I have noticed a tendency on the part of the public sector to believe that the private sector works 9 to 5 and then goes home and puts its feet up.

    • I_love_monday_mornings

      I was! Not on £100k, but they let me retire at 55 with a nice pension & lump sum.