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Birmingham soars up town hall rich list, but council claims wage figures ‘misleading’

Birmingham soars up town hall rich list, but council claims wage figures ‘misleading’

🕔10.May 2013

councilThe number of Birmingham city council officers paid more than £100,000 doubled to 24 last year, but the country’s largest local authority has been left seething by what it claims is a misleading portrayal of its wage structure.

According to the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Birmingham heads a ‘town hall rich list’ in these austere times and has seen a sharp increase in the number of super-salaries while most other councils have been reducing their wage bill.

The council’s press office hit back with the unusual decision to issue a rebuttal even before the TPA published its findings.

A statement “clarifying” the TPA claims was sent to newspapers, radio and television stations claiming that the wages figures were misleading because a several officers listed as earning more than £100,000 in 2011-12 only did so because they received hefty redundancy payments.

A Birmingham council spokesman said: “The figure includes eight schools staff in an organisation which employees over 40,000. Pay packages can include redundancy payments, therefore figures being reported do not always relate to basic pay.

“One-off redundancy payments continue to be anticipated in the coming years, as the council reduces its staffing levels as part of the effort to make savings required as part of reduced funding due to government cuts.”

The TPA research, compiled from published accounts of all UK councils, shows that the number of local government employees receiving more than £100,000 fell by 11 per cent last year, to stand at 2,525. However, Birmingham bucked the trend with 24 officers on £100,000-plus, compared to 12 in 2010-11.

Chief Executive Stephen Hughes remains at the top of the list in Birmingham with a total remuneration package of £260,000 including pension contributions.

Mr Hughes pay packet – a 14 per cent increase on the previous year – is not likely to go down very well with the council unions who are bound to ask why the chief executive has doen so well when local government pay has been frozen for several years.

A council spokesman explained that the increase occurred because Mr Hughes received his full performance-related bonus last year, but did not do so in 2010-11. He had ‘met all the targets set for him’, the spokesman said.

But Mr Hughes’s wage package appears small fry compared to Kent County council chief executive Katherine Kerswell whose total remuneration was £590,000. However, Kerswell, a former Solihull council chief executive, benefited from a large redundancy payment.

Although Birmingham is by far the largest local authority in the UK, its figure of 24 employees on more than £100,000 is relatively modest. Camden Council has 40 and Essex 36.

Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is good news that the number of senior council staff making more than £100,000 a year is finally falling, although that may only be because many authorities have finished paying eye-watering redundancy bills.

“Sadly, too many local authorities are still increasing the number of highly paid staff on their payroll, some of whom are given hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation just to move from one public sector job to another. Residents won’t be impressed if their council pleads poverty when it is demanding more and more Council Tax, only then to spend it creating more town hall tycoons.”

The highest paid council Chief Executive not in receipt of redundancy payments was Derek Myers, Joint Chief Executive of Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea councils who received £266,911.


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