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New figures on council chiefs' salaries revealed

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Almost half of local authority chief executives were paid more than £150,000 last year according to research.

A study of 312 councils in England and Wales showed that total earnings ranged from £62,000 in West Somerset DC to almost £300,000 at Wandsworth LBC.

Average earnings across the country were £147,934 a year, according to a report by the Incomes Data Services (IDS) which counted basic salary, benefits, annual bonuses and extra duties allowances figures included in council annual reports.

Their study showed that 43% of local authority chief executives were paid over £150,000 last year - more than the prime minister’s salary of £142,500.

David Cameron elected to forgo a substantial part of his £198,661 basic salary when he took office, although the Hutton Review of Fair Pay in the Public Sector described his salary as a “flawed” benchmark and suggested that the accommodation benefits of Downing Street and Chequers were worth another £338,000 a year.

The IDS report also stated that calls for pay restraint have not fallen on deaf ears in local government, with average salary increases of 2% last year for chief executives.

Just under a third - 30% - went without an increase, according to figures from the 178 councils who provided 2008-09 comparative data in their 2009-10 annual accounts.

Research by LGC, published last month, showed that a quarter of chief executives had gone further and taken a pay cut, whether through reductions to basic salary, refusing incremental increases or performance related pay, or the end of benefits such as car allowances.

The report from IDS shows that county council chief executives in the south-east were the highest paid, with average earnings of £204,000, compared with £159,000 in the south-west, the study showed.

District council chief executives in the south-east were also the highest paid, receiving an average of £118,000, while the lowest average figure was in the north-west at £104,000.

Only one chief executive in five was female, although pay rates were similar to men, said the IDS report.

The highest paid female chief executive last year was Joanna Killian, head of both Essex CC and Brentwood BC, who earnt £237,000 according to the authority’s 2009-10 accounts. She has since taken a 5% pay cut and now earns £225,000, a spokeswoman for Essex said.

Nasreen Rahman of IDS said: “With nearly half of all local authority chief executives earning more than the prime minister, clearly, in the current climate, town hall bosses will be facing tough questions from council tax payers.

“For the first time, such a comprehensive picture of local authority senior executive pay is possible because of the new disclosure regulation brought in last year, where local authorities have to give more salary information on their top paid officials.”

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Readers' comments (2)

  • The continuing comparison with the Prime minister is flawed since it is like comparing apples and pears. The proper comparison for the PM is with elected local politicians and for CXs with other parts of the public sector eg Vice-chancellors, NHS Cx and the very top echelons of the civil service. Of course this doesn't suit organisations such as the taxpayers alliance (how much are they paid and by whom?)

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  • The majority of Chief Execs and Directors in the public sector are well worth their pay, compare them with the private sector and you'll find that they are well below the average for the number of staff and budget managed.

    Then add on the meddling affects from parliament, the audit commission and Politics in general, and you'll discover that managing in the public sector is not only harder to do, but also more damaging to the 'work life ballance' as deals on the golf course and wining and dining will never be politcally acceptable as in the private sector.

    Let's try another area to lambast, how about the amount that some journalists are paid, with little concern about the whole truth?

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