Executives at the Local Government Association (LGA) have been urged by the government to set an example to councils by taking a pay cut.
Ministers believe at least 15 bosses at the LGA have packages of more than £100,000 a year, including seven on more than the prime minister’s salary of £142,500.
Local government minister Grant Shapps, left, has written to LGA chairwoman Baroness Margaret Eaton (Con) saying that some on six-figure salaries had received pay rises in the past year.
“I think we would both believe this sends out the wrong signal to the public,” he went on.
“Given the tough economic times it’s vital the LGA sets an example to local government and demonstrates prudence in everything it does.
“I think we are both in agreement that if councils cut out the sometimes excessive pay and wild overspends they can protect frontline services.”
His intervention is especially pointed given the LGA’s warnings about the impact on councils of cuts in central government funding.
They follow LGA chief executive John Ransford’s decision last month to take a pay cut of £200,000 from his previous salary of £245,612.
Mr Shapps said that had been “commendable” but said other executives at the LGA and its associated bodies - like Local Government Improvement and Development and Local Authority Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services - must follow suit.
“The secretary of state has called on chief executives on £200,000 to take a 10% pay cut and all those on £150,000 to take a 5% pay cut,” he wrote.
“All government ministers have taken a pay cut and a pay freeze for the next five years.
“As the body representing local government it’s important that you follow suit, do the right thing and demonstrate a consistency of approach in everything you do.”
In a further sign of the bad relations between ministers and the LGA, Richard Kemp (Lib Dem), one of the association’s vice-chairmen, wrote to party leader Nick Clegg, urging him to take Mr Shapps and communities secretary Eric Pickles in hand. He claimed the pair’s continued insistence that cuts to government grant could be dealt with through efficiency savings and cuts to salaries was “distracting” the sector from dealing with the cuts.
“Their behaviour is a disgrace,” he wrote. “Either they really do not know how serious the situation is that they have created by rushing to get brownie points by being the first to settle with the biggest front-loading or they are deliberately trying to distract attention from the problems that they have created.
“I realise that they are Tory Ministers and not ours and that your room to deal with them is therefore limited. But their continued behaviour is a distraction from the serious ways in which we can try and reduce expenditure through things like community budgeting and the development of social enterprises which will be on the agenda for our discussion.”