OconnellJohn O'Connell, Research Director of the Taxpayers Alliance, reports on the bloated level of Town Hall middle management in the Midlands

The TaxPayers' Alliance has released research this morning on the growing number of staff on £50,000-plus remuneration packages at Midlands councils. After our Town Hall Rich List series papers, councils are now required to publish detailed remuneration reports in their accounts for senior staff – generally department heads and the chief executive. However, there is also a table in the accounts showing how many staff receive remuneration over £50,000, broken down by bands of £5,000. It is the best way possible to get a decent indication of the numbers engaged in middle and senior town hall management.

The results for local authorities in the Midlands were revealing. The estimated total bill for local authority staff in the Midlands on £50,000-plus remuneration packages was over £465 million in 2010-11. The number of staff on £50,000-plus packages has increased by 759 from 2009-10. Of course, redundancies have been made which could inflate this number, but even when stated redundancies are subtracted, the
increase is still 8 per cent. Stoke-on-Trent, a council which is looking to increase Council Tax, increased its middle management last year, meaning those on £50,000-plus cost every resident nearly £100. All this while there is a public sector pay freeze supposedly in place.

We looked at this issue a few years back, comparing the numbers to a decade previous. Take Birmingham council, for example – in 1996-97 they had 48 people on remuneration packages of £50,000-plus. In 2010-11, they had 575 members of staff on these deals. That's 12 times as many, and a sure a sign as any that councils must shake themselves out of their continuous spending splurges. The level council tax has reached would be too much in the good times, but with families facing high inflation, high energy costs and crippling fuel prices, spending reductions are more essential than ever. Some councils – including Conservative ones – are now looking to ignore the Government's offer of a Council Tax freeze and hike it instead. They would do well to look at just how bloated they have become over the years, and start to make real savings for taxpayers.