Figures for highly paid council executives don’t add up, local authorities insist

Statistics which suggested South Yorkshire’s two smallest district councils employed the most executives on more than £100,000 a year have been discredited.

Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 8:20 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th April 2019, 8:24 am
Miscalculated: Barnsley Council accused of having too many 100,000 executives

The Taxpayers’ Alliance compiles an annual ‘Town Hall Rich List’, putting together the salaries paid for all the top local authority jobs in the country.

This year’s listed Barnsley Council as having 10 staff members breaching the £100,000 a year pay barrier but analysis of the figures has revealed four of those were for lower-paid staff members, with their final year’s pay topped up by redundancy payments.

In fact, the authority now has only six members of staff with six figure salaries, two down on last year.

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In Rotherham, the ‘rich list’ figures put the council at eight members of staff on £100,000 or more, but according to the council, the figure is actually five – pushed up to the quoted levels only when pension expenses were added to the cost.

The figures appeared in contrast to Sheffield and Doncaster, which are both larger authorities, but have only five £100,000 or more staff members identified by the Taxpayers Alliance.

Pay rates for senior council officers have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years as austerity cuts have bitten into services, but both Barnsley and Rotherham’s council leaders insist their spending on the highest ranking officials is both necessary and cost effective.

Sir Steve Houghton, leader of Barnlsey Council, said the authority had stripped out much of its middle management in the last few years, leaving those in ultimate charge with more responsibility but reduced support from more junior colleagues.

“We have reduced layers of middle management to save money and given more responsibility to the senior officers,” he said.

Rotherham Council leader Chris Read said the authority had to pay market rates to get high calibre officers to fulfil important jobs.

“How much is it worth to make sure the services are right?” he said.

The council has been undergoing a transformation in recent years, since Government commissioners were sent in to oversee the authority in the wake of the child sexual abuse scandal which broke in the early part of the decade.

Since then, fresh officers have taken over many elements of the council’s work.

“We want the right people running services, to make sure we are delivering for the taxpayer,” said Coun Read.