Eric Pickles has called on councils to prove the value of top earning staff, warning ‘the gravy train is over’.
Building on a range of measures that target higher salaries in local authorities, the communities secretary has now instructed officials to investigate how even greater transparency can be achieved over the highest council wages and bonuses.
Latest figures suggest over 2,000 council employees in the UK are earning more than £100,000 a year.
‘Local taxpayers would be shocked to learn their council still has many highly paid staff on its payroll while pleading poverty and seeking to increase council tax,’ Pickles said.
‘The gravy train is over and town halls must prove to hardworking families they are getting value for money from top earners.’
The Coalition claims its efforts on pay restraint have already slashed numbers of town hall staff on ‘inflated salaries’.
Local authorities are required to annually publish details on pay, with senior appointments and severance payments of £100,000 required to go to a full council vote. The local government transparency code came into force in October, requiring councils to regularly make information available on financial and procurement decisions.
The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill could also force managers earning £100,000 or more to hand back redundancy payments if they took a new job at a local authority within 12 months.
Pickles said: ‘When we came to power hundreds of directors, executives and strategists were lining their pockets with hardworking families’ cash. But this government’s focus on excessive pay grounded pay rises received by senior council staff, which had soared out of control during the noughties.
‘But there is still more to do and councils should be focusing resources on protecting frontline services and keeping council tax down rather than throwing away taxpayers’ money.’