The TaxPayers’ Alliance, an organisation campaigning to reform taxes and cut waste in public services for British taxpayers, has published its 14th annual Town Hall Rich List.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance has assembled a comprehensive list of council employees in the UK in receipt of over £100,000 in salary, bonuses, compensation and pension.
It calls on all local authorities to stop council tax rises and cut down on wasteful spending at a time when residents are suffering job losses, pay freezes and reduction due to furlough during the coronavirus crisis
The average number of employees who received over £100,000 in total remuneration per local authority is seven. But Lincolnshire County Council tops the East Midlands region having 16 employees paid in excess of £100,000 in 2019-20. That included Chief Executive Deborah Barnes taking a total of £179,042, including a £25,226 pension contribution.
It would take 131 average Band D households in Sleaford to fund that one annual wage packet, or roughly every house on Clayhill Road and Rookery Avenue in Sleaford. The figure would also pay for seven new teachers with salary starting at £25,714. The average salary of a nurse is £25,578.
Lincolnshire’s chief fire officer and assistant director for fire and emergency earned £164,790 including a £44,077.
Four executive directors on the county council were all earning over £150,000, while the rest ranged in sums from £137,492 to £102,500
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “At the onset of the coronavirus crisis, thousands of town hall officials were taking home huge sums. While councils were plunged into tackling the pandemic, many staff will have more than earned their keep, but households have nevertheless struggled with enormous and unpopular council tax rises.
“These figures shine a light on the town hall bosses who’ve got it right, and will enable residents to hold those who aren’t delivering value for money to account.”
Debbie Barnes, chief executive at Lincolnshire County Council, argued: “The county council has a relatively small senior management team for an organisation our size, and the number of managers has been significantly reduced over the last decade. With one of the lowest council tax rates in the country, we are confident that our residents get good value for money.
“Local councils play a vital role in our communities. Over the last year our senior managers have overseen services that protect our most vulnerable residents, managing hundreds of staff and multi-million pound budgets in the most challenging of times. To attract and retain people with the necessary skills and experience to do this, we pay a competitive salary.”
In comparison, North Kesteven District Council had three executives on over £100,000. Chief Executive Ian Fytche earned £140,121, including £19,418 for his pension.
Deputy Chief Executive Phil Roberts earned £113,102 and the Director of Resources was on £109,036.
A North Kesteven District Council spokesperson said: “Covid has put many people, households and livelihoods under great pressure and our teams have worked tirelessly and effectively at all levels to provide help and support – reaching out directly to vulnerable residents, ensuring high quality housing provision, protecting public health, distributing business grants and shaping the response to Coronavirus at a partnership and strategic level.
“At the same time we’ve kept our focus on providing the high-quality, value for money, essential services our residents expect in exchange for the district council’s ten per cent share of Council Tax across more than 80 different output areas, including revenues and benefits, waste and recycling, public protection, with high levels of customer satisfaction despite the challenges posed to us from Covid.
“The three per cent rise in our Council Tax requirement gives increases of between £3.30 and £4.40 over the year for three-quarters of households, for services continuation and enhancements where need is identified. Some of the Covid support we’ve provided to households includes Exceptional Hardship Payments to assist with Council Tax, paid on top of Council Tax Support, and Discretionary Housing Payments for those eligible, along with signposting to other help and support.
“All this would not be possible without our efficient and high-performing team, at every level. Our pay ratio between the highest and lowest paid employee is 6.5:1, far below the ratio of 20:1 which is recommended as the maximum. We commit to pay policies and decisions that enable us never to have a ratio beyond 15:1, we are committed to the Living Wage Foundation rate and publish clear, transparent information on pay as all councils must do.
“In addition to maintaining services and support, as part of our commitment to £230 million of capital investment over the next decade to ensure our communities flourish, we’re delivering on our vision for North Kesteven with projects bringing new homes and job creation to improved leisure provision and heritage attractions all moving forward over the last year, with a focus on becoming carbon neutral and on biodiversity.”
NKDC’s payments compared to five directors listed on six figure sums at neighbouring South Kesteven District Council, the highest being the outgoing chief executive Aidan Rave on £146,000 after two years in the post - this included a £12,000 bonus and £84,000 in compensation. A strategic director earned £137,000 including a £3,000 bonus. Two other strategic directors also gained bonuses of £1,000 to £2,000 having stepped in as chief executive (Paul Thomas) and assistant chief executive.
These authorities were significantly higher than some district councils in the county, such as West Lindsey where only the chief executive and one executive director topped six figures - the chief executive getting just £129,209. There were three directors in East Lindsey, with the top figure of £130,611 going to the chief executive.
A South Kesteven District Council spokesman said the authority is a large organisation responsible for delivering more than 100 vital services to the residents and businesses of South Kesteven and salaries are at “an appropriate market
level to attract people with the right skills and experience”.
They said: “The council is transparent when it comes to the wages of senior staff and their salaries are published on our website as part of the annual statement of accounts and pay policy.
“These figures are for 2019/20 and two officers listed are no longer employed by SKDC. The level of remuneration includes not just salary, but also pension contributions and other payments.”
The biggest remuneration package in this region was received by Bolsover’s joint chief executive - £268,554, while Essex County Council 40 staff on over £100,000 that year.
In North Kesteven, average households will have to pay £46.41 more Council Tax than last year.
That includes Lincolnshire County Council increasing its share by £26.52, a rise of 1.99 per cent to £1,364.16, the Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner figure going up £14.94, a 5.9 per cent increase to 266.31, plus the £4.95 increase for NKDC (about nine per cent of the overall bill), a gain of 2.92 per cent to £174.60, plus the minor increases for town and parish councils, which would see an average Sleaford household have to pay £1,923.59 this year.
Against this background, the Alliance says the number of UK local authority employees receiving over £100,000 in total remuneration has risen by 135 to the highest level since 2013-14 - 2,802 by the onset of the covid pandemic.
While councils were plunged into tackling the pandemic, households have faced council tax rises, leading taxpayers to question whether their council’s leadership have delivered good value for money.
The Alliance says new polling shows the overwhelming majority oppose increases by a 4-to-1 margin. Six in 10 say councils should freeze or cut top salaries to help keep bills down.