Scots council worker tops annual rich list with £615,000 pay

The TaxPayers’ Alliance found that 2667 council employees received more than £100,000 in pay between 2018 and 2019.

More than 2600 council employees received more than £100,000 in pay between 2018 and 2019, a report has revealed.

The highest-paid local council employee in the UK, North Lanarkshire’s chief officer for health and social care, received £615,550.

The local authority said the TaxPayers’ Alliance figures “are not what they seem” and the employee in question was “entitled to a redundancy payment following a restructure and to access their pension entitlement in accordance with the pension regulations”. 

The TaxPayers’ Alliance found that 2667 council staff pocketed six-figure sums, the highest number since 2013-2014, with 667 employees earning more than £150,000.

It comes as residents in every council area across the UK will face increased taxes this month.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance’s 13th annual Town Hall Rich List shows that 226 more employees received total remuneration in excess of £100,000 in comparison to the previous year and 32 local authority workers earned over £250,000.

Essex County Council had the most employees receiving more than £100,000, with 35 earning over this amount, while in Glasgow 12 workers earned over £150,000.

The managing director of Edinburgh City Council received the largest bonus of £47,817 and Glasgow Council’s Peter Duthie, chief executive of Scottish Event Campus Ltd, topped the expenses and benefits table, receiving £19,170.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance said accountability still matters during the coronavirus crisis and taxpayers must know that they are getting value for money.

It has called for council tax to be frozen and local authority spending to instead be focused on frontline health and social care services.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The coronavirus crisis means that frontline council services are more crucial than ever, but at the same time household budgets face an enormous squeeze from crushing council tax rises.

“There are plenty of talented people in local authorities who are focused on delivering more for less, but that is needed across the board. The country needs every council to cut out waste and prioritise key services without resorting to punishing tax hikes on their residents.

“These figures should shine a light on the town hall bosses who’ve got it right, but also allow taxpayers to hold to account those who aren’t delivering value for money at this critical time.”

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Local authorities are responsible for their own financial decisions, including staff pay, and ensuring taxpayers get good value for money.

“The Government has taken steps to increase the transparency and accountability of local decisions on pay.”

A North Lanarkshire Council spokesperson said: “The Taxpayers’ Alliance is a private company and political pressure group lobbying for low taxation that refuses to disclose its financial backers. 

“Unaccountably, it continues to be presented as some kind of grassroots campaign representing ordinary people.

“As always, the headline figures presented by the Taxpayers’ Alliance are not what they seem. The figures used clearly include staff leaving the organisation who have paid into a pension scheme throughout their working lives and who are entitled to pension payments. These payments are not set by the council.

“They also claim, for example, that someone who works for North Lanarkshire Council was paid in excess of quarter of a million pounds in annual salary. This is, of course, complete nonsense.

“Finally, they claim that an individual received what they claim is ‘remuneration’ of more than £600,000. The employee in question was entitled to a redundancy payment following a restructure and to access their pension entitlement in accordance with the pension regulations. 

“In fact, the payback period for this redundancy was two years and so, from 2021, this represents a saving of £132,000 every single year.

“Unlike the Taxpayers’ Alliance, the council is completely transparent about its funding and pay arrangements and the annual accounts are available on our website.”

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