The Department for Communities and Local Government has identified its most highly paid senior civil servants for the first time.
The figures reveal that two of the department’s officials earn more than the department’s boss, acting permanent chief executive Irene Lucas.
Ms Lucas, a former chief executive of South Tyneside MBC, is the third highest paid in the department earning between £160,000 and £164,999.
The highest earner is Richard McCarthy, director general for housing and planning, who earns between £175,000 and £179,999. Chief fire and rescue adviser Kenneth Knight also earns more than Ms Lucas with his salary somewhere between £165,000 and £169,999.
Along with regions and communities director general Joseph Montgomery, they are the only officials within DLG to earn more than the prime minister’s £142,500 salary which David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne indicated should be an upper limit for public-sector posts.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles has also indicated that council chief executives earning more than £150,000 a year should follow the example set by ministers and take a 5% pay cut while those earning more than £200,000 should reduce their salaries by 10%.
A spokesman said DCLG could not cut the salaries of its senior officials because their pay is set centrally, but said the department’s leadership was leading by example with both Mr Pickles and the next permanent secretary, Bob Kerslake, having taken a pay cut.