Council bosses in St Helens have justified the salaries of top authority officers amid criticism town halls are not offering value for money.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has collated a list of every council official across the country to earn in excess of £100k with the number of high-earners said to be on the rise.
The report states St Helens’ figure fell from 10 to nine for the year 2015/16. However, a council spokesman says the authority disputes TPA’s report, stating it is even fewer officers.
They added: “We publish all of our senior officers’ salaries online under legal transparency requirements. In 2015/16 six council officers received salaries over that level, but only five as of 1 August 2016 following
senior management restructuring.
“These include the Chief Executive, the three directors and a senior public health officer with medical expertise.
“As these are senior posts it is appropriate to offer this competitive salary due to the many significant responsibilities they bear.”
The Local Government Association has defended officers’ rate of pay as salaries are open to a “high level of scrutiny”.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TPA, said: “The average council tax bill has gone up by more than £900 over the last 20 years and spending has gone through the roof.
“Disappointingly, many local authorities are now responding to financial reality through further tax rises and reducing services rather than scaling back top pay. Despite many in the public sector facing a much-needed pay freeze to help bring the public finances under control, many town hall bosses are continuing to pocket huge remuneration packages, with the number of people on six-figure deals actually going up since last year.
“There are talented people in the public sector who are trying to deliver more for less, but the sheer scale of these packages raise serious questions about efficiency and priorities.”
Coun Claire Kober, chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said high wages are justified for local authorities to attract those best-suited for high profile roles.
She added: “Councils are large, complex organisations with sizeable budgets and responsibility for delivering more than 700 services. It is important that the right people with the right skills and experience are retained to deliver this work.”