REVEALED: 28,754 town hall middle managers cost us nearly £2 billion a year
Feb 2013 20
We can today reveal that there are 28,754 local authority staff paid over £50,000 a year, which costs taxpayers £1.9 billion in 2011-12. The cost of paying these staff is the equivalent of 7.5 per cent of Council Tax receipts. This bill is down 12.5 per cent from last year but 118 councils increased the amount spent on staff earning more than £50,000 – some by millions of pounds.

Click here to read the full report (with full council breakdown)

Previous TaxPayers’ Alliance research showed that over the 10 years before the financial crisis, the number of local authority staff with remuneration of more than £50,000 had increased more than three times as quickly as in the private sector. In 1996-97, the average local authority employed 7 people earning more than £50,000. This number rose to 20 by 2001-02 and again to 66 in 2006-07. In 2011-12, the number of people earning more than £50,000 was 71 – more than before the financial crisis.

The key findings of this research are:

  • At least 28,754 local authority staff received remuneration in excess of £50,000 in 2011-12.
  • The cost of council staff receiving remuneration in excess of £50,000 or more was at least £1.9 billion in 2011-12. This is compared to just over £2.1 billion in 2010-11 – a fall of 12.5 per cent. Part of this fall is due to the large number of redundancy payments made in 2010-11 which temporarily increased remuneration bills.
  • 266 local authorities reduced the number of officials receiving remuneration in excess of £50,000, but 118 increased the number.
  • Manchester City Council had the biggest reduction in the number of staff earning more than £50,000 – a reduction of 410. This was mostly down to a large bill for redundancy payments in the previous year. However, Leeds City Council reduced the number of staff earning more than £50,000 to 365, a fall of just 11. This left Leeds City Council with more than twice as many staff earning £50,000 or more as Manchester City Council.
  • In London, Tower Hamlets Borough Council (306 staff earning over £50,000) has a smaller population than Lewisham (160 staff earning over £50,000), but almost twice as many staff earning more than £50,000.
  • Birmingham City Council increased the amount spent on staff earning more than £50,000 a year by more than £5 million. This included an additional 73 staff receiving remuneration in excess of £50,000 in 2011-12.
  • The North West was the region with the biggest reduction in the number of staff earning £50,000 or more – a fall of 922, saving more than £60 million.
  • Northern Ireland was the only region to increase the number of staff being paid more than £50,000 in 2011-12.
  • London had the most staff earning more than £50,000 a year per head of population in England with 9.6 per 10,000. The East Midlands has the fewest with 4.3 per 10,000.
  • The cost of paying staff earning more than £50,000 was highest in London at £63.22 per resident.
  • Outside London, Scotland had the highest cost of paying staff earning more than £50,000 at £48.99 per resident – £20 a head more than in South West England.
  • At least 183 local government officers earned more than the head of MI5 in 2011-12, who received remuneration of £155,000 in 2011-12.
  • The £1.9 billion cost of paying staff more than £50,000 a year in 2011-12 was the equivalent of just under 7.5 per cent of council tax receipts (£26 billion).

Click here to read the full report (with full council breakdown)

Reacting to the report, Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said:

“Taxpayers are still paying far too much for bloated bureaucracies that have been established in too many town halls over the last decade. It is incredible that some councils have even increased spending on high earning staff this year after a decade in which council tax doubled across the country and when every local authority needs to find savings and ease the burden. In those cases where it is the result of redundancy payments then we need to see the savings soon. Councillors need to insist that their local authority does more to find savings and cut back on staff costs that residents cannot afford.”

Britain's independent grassroots campaign for lower taxes



  • blarg1987

    To play devils advocate how many of these people’s salary has gone up due to inflation? It is all good saying their are more people on 50K a year then 96-97 but if it is all down to inflation then their has been no real increase in overall numbers.

    • orac54

      The taxpayer’s liability for their pensions has increased, because they (unlike almost everyone who pays for it) have a final salary-based pension calculation. Get rid of them.

      • blarg1987

        For which part? Some taxpayer liability has increased other parts have not depending on the pension scheme in question. Add to that asd you admitted almost all private sector pension schemes have changed but their are a few who have not and those who are CEO’s etc have not so art of the question that should be asked is are they really unaffordable or are people ony saying that? Evidence to this is that following reforms, a large number of companies showed record breaking profits, was it done to oncreased expoerts? No it was down to pension reform.

  • Nick diPerna

    These figures don’t include all the other pen-pushers living out of the
    public purse like at the Universities, NHS, etc.

    Many of these high-earners don’t even live in the cities where they work and so don’t pay local council tax! We live to pay their wages.

    Thousands of people in Leicester where I live earn around £6.30 per hour (I’m one of them) and still have to pay full Council Tax. Even the lowest paid council workers will get the £7.45 ‘living wage’.

    Leicester City Council pay 16% above market value for wages according to payscale.com and look at all the benefits they get too:

    http://www.leicester.gov.uk/your-council-services/jobs-and-careers/recruitment/our-benefits/pay-pensions-and-other-allowances/

    Politics has failed. Cultural rethink urgently needed!!

  • Martyn.

    I think £50,000 for being a desk-jockey is unjustifiable. My wife and I live comfortably on our pensions (jointly about £9000 pa. nett) and can’t imagine what we would do with so much more – squander it on flash cars, eating out and foreign holidays I suppose.
    Time for a wake-up call methinks.

  • Angered

    The horrendous wages paid to council saff is immoral, I’ve watched it over the years and always predicted that councils and their wages + expenses would bring this country to it’s knees in coming years. It’s now happening and will only get worse. I ran five companies for more than thirty years it makes my blood boil just seeing what they spend on transport alone, never mind the sumptious air-conditioned, central heated offices all around the country. I have plenty of experience in being cost concsious something I dont think exists within council policy. God help us all.

    • blarg1987

      What is classed as a horrendous wage? Is 20, 30, 40K a year even more or less? What we need especially from the TPA is breakdown onnumber of staff and what salaries they have compared for LIKE for LIKE jobs in the private sector including perks and bonuses from that we can make an informed judgement whicho so far is impossible to do due to lack of evidence on both sides of the argument.

  • ColinL

    The taxpayer funds the public sector only to be blackmailed into paying for extra-ordinary salaries, pensions and benefits. EG in the private sector buyers who pass their institute’s professional exams might get a incremental pay rise of a few hundred pounds but their career prospects are boosted by their achievement. But buyers in the public sector, certainly in Central London, receive an additional £2,400 PER ANNUM for the whole of their working life irrespecive of career progression. And we are paying for it.
    Why?

  • Steve Palmer

    What would be useful to see is staff costs per thousand of population by council. Looking at East Sussex where I live and pay excessive council tax it has 409 staff on over £50k which is a lot more than most of the others ESP as this is a very rural area with a low population.

    • Robert MacLean

      East Sussex has a population of c800k so the cost per thousand for just the 409 employees on over £50k is £32.63. West Sussex, where I live, has a population of c809k but only 279 employees on over £50k. That works out at £21.78 per thousand. We can speculate that there are similar discrepancies at lower levels and, as Steve Palmer says, it would be useful to see comparative figures for total staff costs per thousand of population.