Responses to our Town Hall Rich List

April 25, 2012 5:49 PM

Today we released our sixth Town Hall Rich List – the most comprehensive survey of all council employees who receive more than £100,000 in a financial year. This year’s list covers the 2010-11 financial year but also lists 2009-10 figures for comparison. This year we documented a record number of employees receiving packages worth more than £100,000, topping 3,000 for the first time. Some of these were a result of redundancy payments pushing employees into higher salary bands, however this does not fully account for the increase.

The average increase between 2009-10 and 2010-11 was 27 per cent, but when accounting for those who were not in post for both years or those who received larger pay-outs in 2010-11, the figure still stands at 1.8 per cent. It is a fallacy to keep suggesting that the overall number increases year on year solely because of redundancies.

UNISON have issued a statement which is by and large in complete agreement with us. They say:
[it is] deeply unfair for the majority, low paid council workers to see their pay frozen whilst bosses and senior managers see their pay and awards rise.

We couldn’t agree more! It is severely unfair for lower paid council workers to have had their pay frozen while senior managers have seen theirs increase. If many lower-paid workers are losing their jobs and the council is cutting services, for senior managers not to share the burden amongst themselves would be wholly irresponsible and would mean they would struggle to retain the moral authority to run their respective authorities.

However, that’s where the agreement ends. UNISON’s statement goes on to say:
many council chief execs and senior officials are effectively running multi-million pound businesses. If taxpayers are to get the best value for their money, they need well qualified and experienced people doing these jobs. This means that councils have to pay a rate that can compare with the private sector.

It has been proven repeatedly that public sector workers receive substantially larger remuneration packages than their private sector counterparts – to suggest otherwise would be completely false. Obviously we all want competent people who are good leaders running councils, but town hall pay has risen dramatically and uncontrollably without translating into better services for residents. Senior staff, who can’t see that taking more remuneration in the current situation is wrong, are lacking in judgement and leadership and council tax payers will question whether they are worth the money. Residents want people running councils who have the right priorities, who will provide services of a good quality while keeping costs down and not expect the taxpayer to pay more to fund high spending.

It seems as though UNISON has issued a knee-jerk response, without actually realising that we agree on this issue. Our report focuses on the pay and perks received by senior council staff, whom we both agree should be shouldering their fair share of the burden in the current tough financial situation. By taking a reduction in pay, senior council managers would send out a message that they have sympathy with the rest of those in their organisations on much lower salaries who have taken a pay freeze and it will give them the moral authority to make necessary spending cuts in their respective authorities.

The Local Government Association have also issued a response which is in the large part in total agreement with our aims. They say:
In creating a leaner, more efficient sector, councils have reduced significantly the number of senior staff and middle managers. This has led to a small spike in one-off redundancy payments which is mostly responsible for the increase in the number of officers receiving more than £100,000 in 2010/11.

We have been very clear throughout our report and in our methodology to make clear that all figures relate to total remuneration, not salary alone. This is now the sixth year running we have published a Town Hall Rich List and each year has seen large increases in the number of employees receiving total remuneration in excess of £100,000. Each year will undoubtedly include redundancy payments, but there is only so long councils and their well remunerated lobby groups like the LGA can keep claiming any increase is down to redundancies alone. If it is the case, then next year there should be a fall in the number receiving more than £100,000.

They then go on to say:
We share the TPA's belief in transparency and accountability, which is why senior council staff do not set their own salaries. They are set by politically proportionate committees of elected councillors. As a result they are open to a high level of scrutiny and democratic accountability.

We are happy that the LGA share our passion for transparency and accountability. In publishing the most comprehensive survey of council senior pay we enable local taxpayers to judge for themselves if they think their council bosses are worth their six-figure packages against the standard of their local services and their levels of Council Tax. With local elections around the country next Thursday (3 May), taxpayers have the ultimate opportunity to let their local authorities know what they think.

Barnet Council has the most employees in receipt of remuneration in excess of £100,000 in this year’s Rich List with 47. Since our report was put to them by journalists, a spokesman has tried to contradict figures published by the council itself in its audited annual statement of accounts. In response to our research, they are saying: “In the last financial year the council had 25 staff on total remuneration, including pension contributions, over £100,000. A further 16 appear on the list because of redundancy payments and another 6 are teaching staff. This number of teaching staff also includes redundancies.” So Barnet Council itself  has identified 47 employees, but has only now chosen to provide further details as to their packages: this is additional information that was not in their accounts. Their accounts do not distinguish between teaching and non-teaching staff as many other councils do. Had we known that six of the staff were teachers (which we would have known, were their accounts as thorough and as open as other councils), we would not have included those teachers in our headcount. The title at the top of the table in their accounts was “officers remuneration”, which would suggest it referred to council staff and not teaching employees as well. Even if we exclude the teaching staff, Barnet still has 41 employees taking home more than £100,000 a year, leaving them at the top of the list.

We also make no secret of the fact that we include figures which include redundancy payments in a given financial year: it’s taxpayers’ money and forms part of the employee’s total remuneration for that year. We have done this ever since we released our first edition six years ago and where the council accounts say so, we always note where a redundancy payment pushed a particular employee into a higher salary bracket. Our report does not claim to be a survey of council salaries – we make clear that it includes total remuneration (including, but not limited to, salary, allowances, expenses, bonuses, redundancy payments and employer pension contributions). The costs of all of these are ultimately met by taxpayers and it is perfectly fair to list these costs, as councils do in their accounts. Any assertion by Barnet to discredit our report is mud-slinging of the highest order and a shameful attempt to hide the fact that in 2010-11 so many employees received packages worth £100,000 or more, placing them at the top of a national table highlighting this.

Update:


Warrington Borough Council have also contested the figures in our report, accusing us of double counting. But upon inspecting their accounts (pages 87, 88 and 89 below) it is perfectly clear where we got our information from. On the first two pages they provide a detailed breakdown of all "senior staff" with remuneration in excess of £100,000 in both 2009-10 and 2010-11. At the end of page 88, they state that the subsequent headcount table includes "The Authority’s other employees receiving more than £50,000 remuneration for the year...".

As the distinction between the two sets of information appears perfectly clear, we will be unable to change any information in our report until Warrington issue a corrected version of their accounts, from where we can source the accurate figures. It really is disappointing to hear councils smearing research when it comes straight from their own audited accounts, frankly taxpayers deserve better!

[scribd id=91371302 key=key-1j7epzp7c85z0qebk4mr mode=list]Today we released our sixth Town Hall Rich List – the most comprehensive survey of all council employees who receive more than £100,000 in a financial year. This year’s list covers the 2010-11 financial year but also lists 2009-10 figures for comparison. This year we documented a record number of employees receiving packages worth more than £100,000, topping 3,000 for the first time. Some of these were a result of redundancy payments pushing employees into higher salary bands, however this does not fully account for the increase.

The average increase between 2009-10 and 2010-11 was 27 per cent, but when accounting for those who were not in post for both years or those who received larger pay-outs in 2010-11, the figure still stands at 1.8 per cent. It is a fallacy to keep suggesting that the overall number increases year on year solely because of redundancies.

UNISON have issued a statement which is by and large in complete agreement with us. They say:
[it is] deeply unfair for the majority, low paid council workers to see their pay frozen whilst bosses and senior managers see their pay and awards rise.

We couldn’t agree more! It is severely unfair for lower paid council workers to have had their pay frozen while senior managers have seen theirs increase. If many lower-paid workers are losing their jobs and the council is cutting services, for senior managers not to share the burden amongst themselves would be wholly irresponsible and would mean they would struggle to retain the moral authority to run their respective authorities.

However, that’s where the agreement ends. UNISON’s statement goes on to say:
many council chief execs and senior officials are effectively running multi-million pound businesses. If taxpayers are to get the best value for their money, they need well qualified and experienced people doing these jobs. This means that councils have to pay a rate that can compare with the private sector.

It has been proven repeatedly that public sector workers receive substantially larger remuneration packages than their private sector counterparts – to suggest otherwise would be completely false. Obviously we all want competent people who are good leaders running councils, but town hall pay has risen dramatically and uncontrollably without translating into better services for residents. Senior staff, who can’t see that taking more remuneration in the current situation is wrong, are lacking in judgement and leadership and council tax payers will question whether they are worth the money. Residents want people running councils who have the right priorities, who will provide services of a good quality while keeping costs down and not expect the taxpayer to pay more to fund high spending.

It seems as though UNISON has issued a knee-jerk response, without actually realising that we agree on this issue. Our report focuses on the pay and perks received by senior council staff, whom we both agree should be shouldering their fair share of the burden in the current tough financial situation. By taking a reduction in pay, senior council managers would send out a message that they have sympathy with the rest of those in their organisations on much lower salaries who have taken a pay freeze and it will give them the moral authority to make necessary spending cuts in their respective authorities.

The Local Government Association have also issued a response which is in the large part in total agreement with our aims. They say:
In creating a leaner, more efficient sector, councils have reduced significantly the number of senior staff and middle managers. This has led to a small spike in one-off redundancy payments which is mostly responsible for the increase in the number of officers receiving more than £100,000 in 2010/11.

We have been very clear throughout our report and in our methodology to make clear that all figures relate to total remuneration, not salary alone. This is now the sixth year running we have published a Town Hall Rich List and each year has seen large increases in the number of employees receiving total remuneration in excess of £100,000. Each year will undoubtedly include redundancy payments, but there is only so long councils and their well remunerated lobby groups like the LGA can keep claiming any increase is down to redundancies alone. If it is the case, then next year there should be a fall in the number receiving more than £100,000.

They then go on to say:
We share the TPA's belief in transparency and accountability, which is why senior council staff do not set their own salaries. They are set by politically proportionate committees of elected councillors. As a result they are open to a high level of scrutiny and democratic accountability.

We are happy that the LGA share our passion for transparency and accountability. In publishing the most comprehensive survey of council senior pay we enable local taxpayers to judge for themselves if they think their council bosses are worth their six-figure packages against the standard of their local services and their levels of Council Tax. With local elections around the country next Thursday (3 May), taxpayers have the ultimate opportunity to let their local authorities know what they think.

Barnet Council has the most employees in receipt of remuneration in excess of £100,000 in this year’s Rich List with 47. Since our report was put to them by journalists, a spokesman has tried to contradict figures published by the council itself in its audited annual statement of accounts. In response to our research, they are saying: “In the last financial year the council had 25 staff on total remuneration, including pension contributions, over £100,000. A further 16 appear on the list because of redundancy payments and another 6 are teaching staff. This number of teaching staff also includes redundancies.” So Barnet Council itself  has identified 47 employees, but has only now chosen to provide further details as to their packages: this is additional information that was not in their accounts. Their accounts do not distinguish between teaching and non-teaching staff as many other councils do. Had we known that six of the staff were teachers (which we would have known, were their accounts as thorough and as open as other councils), we would not have included those teachers in our headcount. The title at the top of the table in their accounts was “officers remuneration”, which would suggest it referred to council staff and not teaching employees as well. Even if we exclude the teaching staff, Barnet still has 41 employees taking home more than £100,000 a year, leaving them at the top of the list.

We also make no secret of the fact that we include figures which include redundancy payments in a given financial year: it’s taxpayers’ money and forms part of the employee’s total remuneration for that year. We have done this ever since we released our first edition six years ago and where the council accounts say so, we always note where a redundancy payment pushed a particular employee into a higher salary bracket. Our report does not claim to be a survey of council salaries – we make clear that it includes total remuneration (including, but not limited to, salary, allowances, expenses, bonuses, redundancy payments and employer pension contributions). The costs of all of these are ultimately met by taxpayers and it is perfectly fair to list these costs, as councils do in their accounts. Any assertion by Barnet to discredit our report is mud-slinging of the highest order and a shameful attempt to hide the fact that in 2010-11 so many employees received packages worth £100,000 or more, placing them at the top of a national table highlighting this.

Update:


Warrington Borough Council have also contested the figures in our report, accusing us of double counting. But upon inspecting their accounts (pages 87, 88 and 89 below) it is perfectly clear where we got our information from. On the first two pages they provide a detailed breakdown of all "senior staff" with remuneration in excess of £100,000 in both 2009-10 and 2010-11. At the end of page 88, they state that the subsequent headcount table includes "The Authority’s other employees receiving more than £50,000 remuneration for the year...".

As the distinction between the two sets of information appears perfectly clear, we will be unable to change any information in our report until Warrington issue a corrected version of their accounts, from where we can source the accurate figures. It really is disappointing to hear councils smearing research when it comes straight from their own audited accounts, frankly taxpayers deserve better!

[scribd id=91371302 key=key-1j7epzp7c85z0qebk4mr mode=list]

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