The Taxpayers' Alliance annual Town Hall Rich List is out and it shows a quite significant fall in the number of council staff on six figure salaries (or rather "remuneration" as the TPA rightly includes the cost of pension contributions.) There were 2,525 council employees who received total remuneration in excess of £100,000 in 2011 -12. This is a fall of 11% on the previous year when the total was 2,839.
Also included within that figure of 2,525 are dozens of posts where the salary cost is split between more than one council. That is trend I expect will continue. If two neighboring district councils share a chief executive and he is paid £110,000 isn't that likely to be better value than them each employing their own at £95,000? There is a saving of £80,000. Yet that would show up on the TPA survey as an increase in fat cat pay.
There is no simple equation between Town Hall pay for senior executives, and the Council Tax and quality of services. The two councils with the lowest Council Tax – Westminster and Wandsworth – pay their senior people very well indeed. These councils also have high satisfaction from their residents with the standard of the services they provide.
Let's judge by "outputs" rather than "inputs." If the Council Tax is low and the services are good then so what if the chief executive is paid more than the Prime Minister? However councils that are charging higher Council Tax and pleading they have "no alternative" are rather more open to challenge.
Camden Council has 40 employees earning over £100,000 – that is the highest of any council in the country. Fair enough if they are all such great value for money and the Council Tax is low. But it isn't. It is £1,022 at Band D – excluding the GLA precept. It is the second highest in "inner London." (See Table 9). Of course it is higher than Westminster, Wandsworth, Kensington and Chelsea, and Hammersmith and Fulham. But it is also higher than Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Lambeth and Islington.
What about the county councils where we had elections last week? Staffordshire where the Conservatives held on against the trend, has eight employees on over £100,000. In Lancashire, where the Conservatives lost overall control but did very well to stop Labour gaining the council, there are 11 employees earning over £100,000. These are both councils that cut the Council Tax.
Oxfordshire has 16 employees on over £100,000. This was a council that should have remained safely Conservative but put up Council Tax and saw the Conservatives lose overall control.
This information is a valuable way of holding councils to account.