WEST Berkshire Council has defended the salaries paid to its highest earners after the number of council executives earning more than £100,000 across the country was revealed.
According to the TaxPayers’ Alliance Town Hall Rich List, the cash-strapped district authority paid out salaries of more than £100,000 to three employees in the 2015/16 financial year.
Chief executive Nick Carter is the highest-paid employee, on a total remuneration package of £160,832 per year.
West Berkshire Council, however, was found to have the lowest number of employees on a salary of more than £100,000 out of the neighbouring councils in Berkshire.
Bracknell Forest Council had six employees earning six-figure salaries, Reading and Wokingham councils both paid seven employees more than £100,000, Windsor and Maidenhead paid eight employees six figure sums, while Slough paid 11 employees more than £100,000.
The figures revealed at least 2,300 council employees in England and Wales are earning six-figure salaries, while 539 of these employees received packages worth more than £150,000 in 2015/16 – more than Prime Minister Theresa May is paid.
According to the TaxPayers’ Alliance, the highest-earning group had increased by 53 compared to the previous year.
Chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, John O’Connell, 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 raises serious questions about efficiency and priorities.”
However, the number of those earning more than £100,000 has decreased at West Berkshire Council.
Spokeswoman Peta Stoddart-Crompton described the council’s management structure as “lean”, while justifying Mr Carter’s six-figure salary.
She said: “In addition to his chief executive role, Nick Carter is also director of resources.
“West Berkshire Council only has two other directors – for communities and environment.
“This is a lean management structure for a council of our size.
“We review our management structure on a regular basis – this April we reduced the number of heads of service by two to 14.
“Mr Carter had a one-per-cent increase in April 2016 and one per cent in April 2017.
“Prior to that, Mr Carter has had no pay increase since 2008.”
Southwark Council in London was the local authority which had the most employees on six-figure salaries, with 44 staff taking home more than £100,000 a year.
The figures reveal former chief executive of Sunderland City Council Dave Smith was the local government employee with the largest pay package in 2015/16, receiving £625,570 – including a pay-off worth £185,470 and pension contributions of £331,414.