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The Taxpayers' Rich List - Join in the debate

How much do top people in the public sector really get paid - council chiefs, headteachers, policemen, even the BBC's own bosses?

Just a week after the release of official statistics on the earnings of rank and file public sector employees, Panorama is able to shine a light on the salaries of the highest paid in the public sector.

Because We're Worth It - the Taxpayers' Rich List reveals the results of the most thorough and extensive investigation ever conducted into their pay, using the Freedom of Information Act to contact over 2,400 organisations.

The survey, conducted in collaboration with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, shows that more than 9,000 public sector employees receive higher salaries than Prime Minister David Cameron, who is on £142,500.

We welcome your comments on this week's Panorama. Please do join in the debate.


  • Comment number 1.

    We welcome your input via our team blog. Please join the debate and give us your thoughts on Because We're Worth It - the Taxpayers' Rich List.

  • Comment number 2.

    The subtitle for this program should be "the BBC, scared of the coalition, softens up the tax payer in readiness for the Spending Review".

    Many public sector workers are paid a lot of money. On a like for like basis though this is the bare minimum that the Government can pay to attract talent from the private sector because it doesn't pay more junior workers enough to retain the quality needed to lead organisations.

    The equivalent private sector functions to those you are quoting pay at least three times more than the public sector.

    A ridiculous piece if reporting.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    I would like to know whether Panorama used its name when requesting this information, because I do not believe it did.

    I have real concerns about this information, most importantly the cost. All public bodies have to comply with valid requests, so long as the costs are set at an "appropriate level" of time/cost. The appropriate level is deemed £450 on the basis of 18 hours at £25 per hour. That means this programme has cost UKplc up to £1,080,000 (£450 * 2,400), or wasted up to 5,760 days (2,400 * 18 hours / 7.5 hours per day)of time that staff could be helping the public. I know most organisations would be able to reply in a far shorter time, but you get some idea of the scale of this waste, also the BBC does say some have gone to appeal - even more cost.

    A pity a once great programme has to compromise its integrity with such poor journalism, and yes, I work for the public sector, but no, I do not earn this sort of money. I actually took a pay cut and left a company car to come and work in the NHS because I believe in public service.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm not surprised 9000 public sector employees earn more than £142K this includes doctors and other professional bodies which we all depend upon. please can we have some upfront and honest headline figures!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    How can this be taken seriously without reference to what is paid in the private sector. List everyone in the private sector earning over £200,000 (a year that is not a week). Check out if people consider that they should get so much more than the prime minister otherwise your comparisons are worthless and simply a witch hunt.

  • Comment number 7.

    This is so disappointing coming from the BBC who are supposed to set the standard for journalism. Totally ridiculous programme supporting the current government's bonkers idea of paying civil servants less, like they are somehow poorer quality, second rate, doing a less important job than those in the private sector. The public sector is the biggest business in the UK and what it has to do every day is immense, it needs the best people and you have to pay for that. If you put rubbish in, you get rubbish out. The journalist doesn't ask if these people are qualified or have appropriate experience and therefore deserve these salaries. The real question here is why the prime minister is paid so much, he may run the country but he IS, without question, the most poorly qualified of ANYONE in panorama's list.

  • Comment number 8.

    So what ! ? ! ?
    You must NEVER drag somebody down to your level, you must ALWAYS strive to lift yourself to their's.
    This smacks of jealousy by DC, but remember, DC is a millionaire and doesn't need the PM's salary.
    Finally, if you want an efficient and effective government you must have very good managers and you need to attract them from the commercial sector.
    Frankly this whole subject is a middle-class - chattering classes - topic and will do little or nothing to help the poor, vulnerable, etc.
    Incidentally this also smacks of a political diversion tactic

  • Comment number 9.

    I have a problem with this continuing comparison with 'what the Prime Minister earns.' Anyone who believes what the PM really earns is only equivalent to £142,000 a year must be extremely naive - what does it really add up to in terms of the accommodation he doesn't have to pay for, expenses and the earning capacity he has once he has stopped being PM? It is not a fair comparison and is extremely prejudicial.

  • Comment number 10.

    You've got to love David Cameron who takes a pay cut, very noble when you've already got millions in the bank. If the Coalition government keep cutting pay for MP's and Senior Public Sector workers the only talented people who willing to work in these post will be rich public school boys who don't need the wage. I suppose that will be a good long term plan for the Tory’s. If you're not from a rich background and you've done well at Uni, I would go into the private sector at least if you’re made out to be villain you'll be reimburse for it.

  • Comment number 11.

    This feature is pointless without a comparison to comparable private sector pay and budget / personnel control. Equivalent top men and women in business are paid at least three times more. Governments increasingly want the public sector to run like business, but they're not prepared to tolerate a fraction of business pay for their leaders.

  • Comment number 12.

    Typical lazy panorama journalism again. The comparison with the PMs salary is laughable. Yes he may earn £142k a year, but only until he leaves office to make millions a la Blair. Compare pay if you must, but give us fair comparisons - heads of industry, other CEOs etc.
    This years comprehensive spending review will hurt more people and have a wider impact for all of society than the people the BBC have made an ill informed judgement on.

  • Comment number 13.

    This really is ropey reporting. As always when discussing public sector pay, the BBC compares the pay of a politician with that of career professionals. Compare like with like and you will get a better comparator.

    At the top end, public sector pay may be out kilter but the BBC's argument would be more compelling if it compared an individual's pay with an individual's performance. To contrast politicians with chief executives, head teachers, doctors, lawyers is terribly simplistic and misses the point.

  • Comment number 14.

    No mention that Jeremy Vine is on £250k a year? Is his job more valuable than the Prime Minister?

  • Comment number 15.

    It's a very misleading documentary. Unfortunately, most people will totally fall for it. I'm a lowly paid individual, who understand what television programs have to do to get our attention. What Panorama fails to do is report on actual packages, such as pensions, perks, holiday entitlement, free homes, security, and so on. Totally distorted reporting, which most programs on TV do anyway. Any idea what a good stock broker wage is? 500k. Thousands of businessmen earn so much more than anything reported in Panorama. So when you are a civil servant (which is such a narrow minded term anyway) and you are in the public eye, and tackling reporters and journalists week in week out, and putting your family at risk and in the newspapers as a result of being in the public domain..... I would ask to get paid as much as the bankers!!!!! Which is a lot more. This type of bias reporting makes me so angry, because reporters know all of this, and they just want to cause a storm! If you are responsible for millions of people, and under the freedom of info act, you have to tell everyone where you live, whereas, bankers don't. How much do you need to protect your family. This is warmongering program making. These people are high profile who have to work under the freedom of info act, which, means they take a huge risk if they fail. We shouldn't be dropping their wages, we should arguing to increase our!

  • Comment number 16.

    Panorama made one big mistake. Cameron earns much more than the amount quoted. He lives for free, no utility bills, no car to buy or maintain, no house repairs, a guaranteed pension and the future guaranteed to bring in millions. Just look at Tony Blair what he is worth now. Therefore, I got bored with the comments made on Panorama and I congratulate the people who were happy that their Police chief or headmaster earned that money. Unlike Cameron, they won't have a financial future to look forward to. Very disappointing programme.

  • Comment number 17.

    Another hatchet job from Mr Armageddon. At no point did they give examples of private sector salaries, and when the head of BBC People told the reporter she took a 25% pay cut for her position, he asked her if her position was worth more than the head of the DoD. How specious.

  • Comment number 18.

    Totally stupid comparison - doctors, teachers etc. have to study for years and are highly skilled people - MP's as I understand it, do not need any qualifications whatsoever. Moreover, it is absurd to compare salaries with the prime minister who is going to earn whatever he/she likes when finished in the job writing books, being directors of private companies or by simply doing speaches etc. Totally ridiculous. Why don't you compare a top policeman salary with some one pressing buttons in a bank and earning vast fortunes and bonuses and who contribute nothing to society. Pathetic.

  • Comment number 19.

    The balance of this episode was misleading at best, the PM salary stands at £150k, live in "all found". The value of two houses, food, office and chauffeur driven limousines should have a financial value and this should be reflected in any comparisons you make. In gross income terms the PM's salary must surely be approaching £300k when all benefits are taken into account. If this is the case this somewhat undermines the core thrust of the program and more importantly the Coalition Government's case.

  • Comment number 20.

    These salaries are for the most part obscene,comparing them to private sector is a thin excuse.The bottom line is we could replace all these people with the same quality and pay half of what they get.As the man said on tv its robbery without violence.If these current people were so magnificent,why is this country in such a state,it is hardly nirvana here is it?
    Corruption,old school ties,my local council leader is on 175000pa and isnt worth more than 25000;in fact she shouldn't be the head of the council.Who in gods name allows these people to get such huge salaries?

  • Comment number 21.

    What a load of rubbish. The Prime minister on 140k? Boo hoo. The guy will be a millionaire in a few years "advising" the private sector and book sales etc.

    This is just more propaganda for the Government. Call yourselves journalists?

    Panorama is now following the 9 oclock news in the dumbing down market.

    The only interesting fact in the whole program was the GPs on double what they were 3 years ago because the government mucked up.

    This mirrors all the talk over the last week that public sector workers get paid more than their private sector equivelents. I'd love to see how they compared the jobs there.

    Come on BBC please treat this debate seriously.

  • Comment number 22.

    Please could somebody tell me what business experience the Prime Minister has and what qualifies him to run this country? My understanding is that he is solely an elected representative of the general public and that he is advised by professionals in the Civil Service. Prior to becoming Prime Minister, I wonder what salary he might have achieved in industry? I am sorry but, in my opinion, this puerile comparison rather debases Panorama, which used to be a serious contributor! When all the experts go back to the private sector, to avoid this sort of harassment, what monkeys will be left to run the public services and what will be the result?

  • Comment number 23.

    This seems to me a question of ideology and how you believe you can ensure quality in public services. This documentary seemed to be firmly in the Conservative camp and seemed to concentrate more on exposing those who are highly paid rather than ask the more important questions as to how we should deliver public services efficiently in the current economic climate.

    The comparison with the prime minister's salary was equally misleading. It was a sensationalist way of explaining things which made for a cheap way to make people look uncomfortable. Why compare the prime minister's salary to that of leading GPs etc rather than to those of leading private sector earners, many of whom can objectively justify their wages with less ease? Far too simplistic and lazy in my opinion.

  • Comment number 24.

    I am sure I am not mistaken in my belief that the Government's Agenda for Change job ranking mechanism was introduced to ensure there was equitability across public service workers pay.

    Our nurses, I am one, teachers, fire and police were to be the forerunners of this 'triumphant pay modernisation' agenda. It would appear that it stopped dead in its tracks following the first wave.

    If this Government wishes to do something constructive with public sector pay, introduce AfC across all public sector disciplines but, rather than mandatory pay freezes for the lesser paid workers, distribute the envelope more equitably. 10% of the revenue saved will likely ensure the rest of us are inflation and VAT hike proofed.

  • Comment number 25.

    although i agree with some parts of your latest programme 'public sector pay' i do beleive this is a smoke screen to the real issues of BANKS robbing the poor 'tax payers' and the UK relying only on one business model 'finance' it is madness. i also beleive the TIMES the BBC and the goverment are undermining the public sectors, so that they can privatise it. i do think your investgator did not provide a balanced story about the public sector, e.g. no comparisons to equivalent salaries in the private sector and had failed to consider the fact the PM has a grace and favour house, free transport and expences with a guaranteed income on book selling/writing ' i can see the title now why we lost the last election 2015 my divorce from Nick' and consultancy 'quango'FEES when the PM leaves the job.

  • Comment number 26.

    I strongly believe that salaries of influential senior management in public service should be competitive both internationally and with those paid in the private sector. If we want a country which is run well, is able to compete on the international stage by the best people we must attract high quality individuals. What was also not mentioned is the perks to the prime minister’s job which add significantly to the overall package value and also the enormous earnings potential he will have when he leaves office - this is the prize that allows the prime minister to act so magnanimously now. I would also add the fact that Panorama are questioning this is admirable but the disapproving tone is shameful considering that within the Panorama team Jeremy Vines salary alone (estimated at £250k per annum) is well above that of our prime minister....Should we be paying this level of salary for those whose only contribution is to comment?

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    The miniscule amount of time spent on the outrageous remuneration at the BBC was quite incredible. The BBC has 9 out of the top 20 public sector earners in the country. Clearly you were asked to shine the light upon other organisations far more than your own.
    Many of those highlighted provide real, tangible benefits to the communities they serve. Your head of HR on the other hand provides little benefit to anyone. She says that she took a 25% pay cut to come to the BBC. Maybe she did, but I can certainly say that it would be highly unusual for someone on that sort of salary (I earn a lot more than her by the way) to take a pay cut. If she is willing to do her job for her current rate, then perhaps she would be prepared to do so for half of the current rate. If not then there will be no shortage of others ready to fill in.
    The BBC is living well beyond the willingness of it's tax payers to pay. With any luck the government will slash the licence fee by 30% next year.

  • Comment number 29.

    I thought it was interesting that in the programme it was pointed out that the BBC wasn't paid for from taxes but from licence fees. As far as I'm concerned the TV licence is a tax because I have to pay it, I have no choice and if I don't I could go to prison. Therefore, I find it hypocritical for a BBC programme to take this line. I'd like the BBC to be up front and tell us exactly what it pays ALL of its staff- DJs, actors, newsreaders, documentary presenters etc. As I pay my TV licence I feel I have a right to know, but the BBC tries to keep this information close to its chest. I am sure there will be quite a number that earn more than the Prime Minister. I really object to the fact that these 'entertainers' are paid so much whilst Panorama takes a pop at doctors, teachers, chief constables etc who all have such important and difficult jobs to do.

  • Comment number 30.

    Next week..... the favourite colour of every public sector employee uncovered by the BBC's latest futile FOI requests. - Hey there you go, tell the nation how much the BBC has cost us through its abuse of Freedom of Information.

  • Comment number 31.

    I do find this whole discussion a little strange/ hypocritical
    especially as your presenter, Jeremy Vine is paid more than £250000 a yr.

    If you want to obtain and retain the best people you have to pay the going rate.

  • Comment number 32.

    SHAME ON YOU BBC!!!!!!! this is just not acceptable and i think you know it by the way the young lady was swetting in her seat! your wages are disgusting. and you have finally been caught!

  • Comment number 33.

    Its all well and good to have a programme about people earning more than the Prime Minister in the public sector but is it fair to classify the Prime Minsters role as a job or is it more of a calling. Would it not also have been fairer to note in this programme that most of the executives achieve their high earnings by results as the Prime Minister has only been in post for a few months the book is still open on his ability. We noted that David Cameron was not complaining about his earning potential as Prime Minister, could his private incomes and financial assets preclude his financial reward for being Prime Minister. Also it should be noticed that a previous Prime Minister has just published his memoirs which netted him millions in royalties and lecture tours in various institutions which will vastly outstrip the years he was in office. If these total incomes where divided by the number of years he was in office and then the result added to his salary, we would be surprised if this did not outstrip most if not all of the high salaries quoted in the programme. It seems to have become a fact of modern life that high office gives a celebrity status and the rewards that come with it. It must be remembered that the contestants for Big Brother go in for pittance but that the gains made after leaving the show can far outstrip the prizes offered.

  • Comment number 34.

    I found the whole presentation extremely slanted. At no point was the cost of having a Downing Street home costed along with the staff, all expenses paid or the family fortune behind the salary. I'm sure nobody would mind earning £142,000 when they have a £30 million inheritance if they feel the pinch!
    There is a huge percentage of public sector workers that do not earn those amounts, they will be hit by the impending cuts more than a rich prime minister making an empty gesture.
    Most public sector workers earn less or around £20,000 hardly enough to support their family let alone endure a cut.

  • Comment number 35.

    I was extremely disappointed at the cheap and flawed journalism evident in the Panorama programme on public sector pay. I expected better of the BBC. Sensationalism, a low, shallow level of debate and dubious facts. This was dumbing down at its worst.
    Come on BBC - surely you can do better than this? Next time get someone other than Cameron to write the script please !

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    Why is the salary of the Prime Minister held up as a threshold which should not be exceeded by others in the public sector? In reality, this is a job which requires no special training, knowledge, or expertise. It is a role which I am sure many other citizens could quite easily take on. By contrast, I doubt that the Prime Minister could so easily swap jobs with many others in the public sector who have much more complex jobs such as surgeons which require years of training and real technical skill. Now that would make an interesting documentary....

  • Comment number 38.

    I think it's very clear from the overwheling majority of the well reasoned comments on this thread that the once highly respected Panorama program has reduced itself to nothing more than fallacious content !! Hugely disappointing and simply fuels the general public into allowing with more ease the impending cuts to public sector workers while avoiding the real issues. Well done the BBC for that program - sigh.

  • Comment number 39.


  • Comment number 40.

    9000 public sector workers earn more than the PM, but do they have the same amount of back room deals, publishing opportunities and speaking engagements as Cameron will have? Look at Bliar, set for life as he cosies up to the hedge funds and does the Catholic Churches dirty work. What a great way to demonize and unbalance the public sector. How about a nice Panorama about the millions of average Public Sector employees who clean nursing homes, perform low level clerical work or look after the parks?

  • Comment number 41.

    Well Done BBC, you are so honest to look at yourselves as well as other unnaceptable exagerations in the current economic climate. You know, i work really hard helping people with a drug and alcohol addction. When a single person stops using drugs, the impact on the community is huge: health, crime, family, child protection, etc... Every time a single person stops using drugs, we save thousands to the economy, but above all, to humanity; I get paid £10 thousand pounds for an 18.35 hrs week, and every year, i have to justify where the money went. On top of this, i speak different languages, which has allowed different government organisations to use me, saving over 30 thousand on interpreters. My husband was paid 12 thousand as a wharehouse man, but he was laid off. His pride prevented him to go down the jobcentre, saving the government a few more bucks. He became self employed, but things are so bad, that even though he worked 55 to 70 hr weeks, his profit last year was only just under 7 thousand. Still, out of our humble income we pay taxes, council tax, road tax, etc... still, we care about our community and i do volunteer work and always try to help if someone needs me. Can you imagine, how hard it is for people like me, who work so hard and get so little, always strugling, to hear about these high paid people? It's discusting, it's selfish and sinful. It's unnaceptable to me, and i bet that all those who have been writing against this panorama report are part of the "highly paid" group, because i can not accept that a tax payer like me, would agree with this scandal. What happened to corporate responsability? What happened to fairness? If i had 100 thousand i could pay my whole house, instead of paying £600 a month for the next 25 years... and these people get more then this in one year???!!! And it's the idiots like me, who are paying for them and have no choice in the matter. I seriously hope that our prime minister and nick clegg put an end to this greed that is running through the veins of banks, footbal clubs, etc... but above all, the public sector, because it's money that comes from all of us.

  • Comment number 42.

    So there's only 9000 people in the public sector that make more than the Prime Minister. On the face of it that sounds really bad, but when you analyse it, David Cameron sure has a job with a lot of responsibility. The thing is he sure doesn't have much in the way of skills. So what we're saying is that there are 9000 people with more skills than the prime minister; forget 9000, I reckon there's more like 9million.

  • Comment number 43.

    Silly silly people. Falling for the old PM salary comparison. It is right to look at the TOP public sector earners, but at least do it properly.
    Who cares what Cameron is paid? or Blair?
    Why not calculate the total cost of a public sector remuneration, including pension costs and employers NI contributions?
    Then compare it to a multiple of the lowest paid member of that profession.
    Should a consultant surgeon TOTAL PACKAGE be 5, 10 or 20 times a nurse?
    Should Mark Thompson earn 40 times that of a runner at the BBC?
    I like the copper in Cleveland, so have a fixed salary based on a multiple of a new PC on the beat. Now add a local tax if the local community feel they are worth the extra money.

    As for the show, 65% of the top earners were in the NHS but 65% of the show did not cover this. Why not?
    As for comparing with Private sector, fine. If you think you can get a job in the private sector which pays more then feel free to do so!

  • Comment number 44.

    The one thing that this documentary makes clear is the overwhelming value that special advisers add to government. It's true they may earn over a quarter of a million pounds a year, and then successfully avoid multiple FOI requests about their income. However, the reams and reams of documents which self perpetuate their existence could not be endlessly produced without the special adviser. For £1k a day the value is wonderful.

  • Comment number 45.

    Some of these salaries reported are clearly shocking, but it is wrong to say that just because somebody is in the public sector they should be paid a fraction of what they are worth. Is it not vital that we have the very best talent to lead our public services? What is unacceptable however, is the payment of extortionate salaries to average people who do not perform exceptionally. This is more difficult to judge, but is the only real story here. I should also point out that the list of high salaries is incomplete. I happen to know that at least one of the quangos named has more people paid over £150k, but you have missed them as they are not disclosed in their annual accounts.

  • Comment number 46.

    Mr Cameron is engaged in the worst kind of populist politics: find a well defined & small subset of thr UK population; ensure they have no collective voice; stigmatise and vilify in the mind of the public; keep the pot of public vitriol boiling withn plenty of judicious stirring; rely on the various media outlets to display varying amounts of indignation of behalf of the "great British people"; proceed, unseen, to implement some of the most idealogically divisive policies seen since Mrs Thatcher.

    It seems wholly disingenuous of Mr Cameron and his cohort of cabinet millionaires to berate those paid more than the PM's official salary - it smacks of the somewhat victorian attitude of old money's distate for new money. I thought we had, at last, begun to move away from this elitist attitude towards who is fit to govern, or hold the most senior positions in public life. However, with Mr Cameron we seem to have reverted to a time where public service is the province of "gentlemen" for whom noblesse oblige is the guiding mantra, and where the idea of payment is grossly distasteful.

  • Comment number 47.

    As a BBC License payer I feel that Mr Mark Thompson should not be paid £838,000 per year. The BBC have for many years dictated to the public the importance of paying the license fee, Remarks such as it leads to a good programming structure, and "we this, and " we that". The year is now 2010 and there are multiple broadcasters out there who will not prosecute you for ither not wanting to watch there broadcasts or choose not to pay for them. The BBC are antiquated in there perceptional values which is not reflected in the salary which they pay to Mr Thompson, it is most likely the only thing about the BBC which is smack bang up to the future.

  • Comment number 48.

    Everything is relative and earnings in the public sector are no exception. While some people seem overpaid and some can command the salary for their experience and their exceptional leadership, at least most of these people (if not all of them) are contributing fairly significantly to our economy, which is more than can be said of our premiership footballers. With this in mind, can we really cite the private sector (of which the premiership is a part) as a perfect exemplar? The public sector is not perfect, but there are parts of our economy where far worse examples can be found.

  • Comment number 49.

    How about a program that focuses on lowly paid people. This episode was a complete waste of money and stupid. Concentrate on getting lowly paid people more money, and they won't be so jealous of the top earners.

  • Comment number 50.

    I think the show failed to make the point it should of been trying to get at. For as long as I can remember bothering to pay attention, there have been stories in the news about wards being closed in hospitals or facilities being moved to one "localised" hospital as well as schools closing down, police forces being cut. As far as I can see this is always put down to a lack of money in the public sector, but even a small pay cut from some of the higher earners would surely help to put back into actual services as a whole.
    At this point alot of people are saying "but the private sector gets paid more anyway" and this may be true, but they are responsible for their own success and finances. A private sector school doesn't have to worry about making sure a school that isn't performing well gets the financial support to improve whilst rewarding the school that does perform well. I'm pretty sure private healthcare doesn't have to worry about the lack of beds and nursing staff especially on Friday and Saturday nights with all the drunken idiots walking in off the street.
    I know this puts forward the argument that the work the public sector do is harder and therefore should be paid more, but it all comes down to business and available funds; the manager of a small store trying to make it on his own will have a harder time than the store manager of a large supermarket who just has to follow rules and procedures for the most part, but which one gets paid more?

    A couple of things I did find interesting were one, the BBC trying to make out that being funded by a mandatory TV licence rather than by tax money means they should get paid ridiculous ammounts (given the choice I would rather not pay the TV licence and watch the other hundreds of channels available even if they do have adverts). Secondly, the guy in charge of the olympics project, no doubt as it gets closer and closer to the time, we're going to hear how it's running further and further over budget, but you'd be pretty annoyed if a builder doing work for you went way over the quote given because most of it was to cover his managers cut.

  • Comment number 51.

    I cannot believe what a cheap little programme Panorama has now become. Its heady days are far behind and now it resorts to tabloid journalism for cheap effect. Do your 'award-winning' journalists really believe that this sort of one sided work really counts for anything? Last night's programme merely played to a gallery consisting of those who yearn to be fuelled by some sort of misguided anger about public sector pay!

  • Comment number 52.

    It is good to see some focus on this area. the subject of top pay is a real mess, and yes, it is excessive and unacceptable. The people who decide and control pay levels in the public sector need to face up to reality, particularly with the economy being in the dire state that it is in.

    Top pay in both the public and private sectors is excessive. If a less blickered approach was taken to recruitment, with a bit more effort being made in the recruitment process, we would find that for every top person, there were 100 better people available at a lower cost.

  • Comment number 53.

    The headmaster featured here from Kennet School in Thatcham took over within my first year. Without a doubt he turned the school around. Thanks to his leadership I, and my classmates, had a first class secondary education. Everything I have achieved is testament to that education and quite frankly £150,000 for someone of that calibre running two schools is amazing value for money.

  • Comment number 54.

    I was not a little disappointed at this programme, I felt they took the easy option away from revealing the real high earners in government connected positions, the head of the FSA for instance on £725,000 per year, his position in that organisation is so high that it is impossible for anyone to hold that position and be an expert in anything other than one area of his span of control, the managers who are head of each dept would be the experts in their own fields. This makes the top wage a mockery.

    I also totally disagree with people's assesment of the private sector earning more for specific jobs, the public sector appears to pick and choose who they match themselves against.

    In the private sector 'safe' management positions in national companies, typically multi site and billions of pounds under their control, where no merger or other huge specialist upheavel is occurring are low paid, typically below director - which generally means owner/shareholder in private industry, not a fancy name for a manager to earn a higher wage, are paid £50,000 to £100,000, anyone on one site £40,000 to £60,000, plus car usually.

    It is when there are major changes, huge company issues, ie a bank trying to save their investment capital etc that the higher waged managers appear, these people have specific tasks and are paid for their skills, usually to rescue millions of pounds, the risk of the contract they have undertaken on their own career, each job could be their last, the fact they may not even with success be working again for a year or two until a another contract comes along etc. Or of course the obvious mergers or aquisitions.

    Quite how the public sector have targeted these people as their equals or their work as the same puzzles me.

    The other higher waged directors in private industry usually either started the business off, or carry expertise and purchased the business, in the se case they do typically earn £150,000 to £200,000 plus get dividends on the shares they own, these people though I repeat own a large share of the business and are the driving force behind it producing revenue for the capital venture companies, investment houses or individuals who own the remaining shares.

    Specific skilled work in the private sector can carry very high wages, these are few and far between, but not usually general managers.

    The FSA as we all know failed yet their managers have moved on to equal and higher paid salaried work connected to the public sector.

    Private industry does not forgive failures in this way, a poisoned chalice is an expression commonly used in private industry which ends many more management careers than are made.

    I however feel sorry for head teachers dragged in to this, some multi site schools with huge amounts of children are run by head teachers who earn over £100k, the single site schools (not villages) heads are nor paid this amount and the example in the programme is a teacher, I am led to understand, who was running his school as an experiment along with the government education dept following everything that was happening, so he was part of a government project and running his own school, he must have been working night and day.

    Typical headteachers salaries in small infant schools are around the £46,000, larger units are up to £76,000 but typically around the £53,000 and as i said before the huge schools are over £100K.

    Skilled workers getting paid a competitive salary is fine, managers in the public sector are pegging their wages against the elite of business not the average high quality private manager, quality private managers would take those positions for fractions of the cost and probably in many cases would be better, they do not get the opportunity it is a closed shop no matter what anyone says, if you are a top manager try and get a position just for fun even if you dont want it and you will see the truth.

  • Comment number 55.

    Using the PM's salary as a benchmark for public sector pay is disingenous. The PM does not pay rent/mortgage on his residence.
    He is a politician. he may be serving the public but he does not have to go through several years of training to get where he wants to
    His innumerable perks mean that his expenditure from his salary is likely to be moderate. in other words he is able to save most of his salary,unlike us
    He has a private income the size of which is unknown
    The amount of extra income he will make over the next 50 years of his life will be far more than any of us. Look at Mr Blair!He is a multimillionaire!
    I don't think the PM would notice if he didn't have any money in his next pay packet!

    It would have been useful if you had made an attemptto answerthe question "what is any job worth?"
    do the makers of this programme feel that they deserve the salaries they are getting?
    jo, scarborough

  • Comment number 56.

    A very interesting programme, and I wish it had included the Regulatory Authorities which are funded by public money, not from the tax payer directly, but from the industry they are regulating.
    One such industry is the Financial Services industry, regulated by the FSA, FOS, & FSCS in various ways, all of which are directly paid for by fees which are levied upon individuals and companies working within the industry. For example, the salary information below was available in July 2009 and is no doubt wildly out of date now, but is still relevant. This salary has been paid in spite of the FSA's consistent failure to prevent [mainly] banks mis-selling investment products and stockbrokers losing vast sums of clients' money. This has resulted in millions of compensation fees baing paid to unfortunate consumers. These fees, and all the regulators expenses, salaries and costs will be funded from every IFA and financial services firm in the UK.
    However the head of the FSA, Hector Sants, received £478,000 p.a. and this ignores the £145,000 cost of pension contribution, limousine, driver and other perks, in 2007/8. One wonders what it is now, especially as he has been 'persuaded to stay on and withdraw his resignation?
    The Chairman of the FSA Adair Turner received a salary of £416,000 which, including benefits, was topped up to £482,442 in 2009/10.
    Perhaps Panorama would be able to extend its' brief to investigate The FSA, FoS & FSCS salaries too which I am sure the public would find of interest, especially as the FSA is rightly insisting that all Financial Advisers, [whether selling just their employers' products or advising from the whole market] should be highly qualified but is REFUSING to disclose the qualifications, if any, of their staff who are commanding significant salaries at the expense of the individuals in the industry they are regulating. The total amount paid out in staff 'annual incentive rewards' in 2009/10 was £21,998,813, which equates to 13.8% of its total salary bill [= £159.4m for 3,300 employees = avearge salary +/- £48,300pa]. This compares with £19.7m and 14% previous year.
    Allegedly, 'Disgraced' regulator Clive Briault commanded a £300,000 salary, bonus of £30,000 and other emoluments exceeding £24,000 in his final year and, additionally, received in excess of £326,000 for his misfortune in being involved in the Northern Rock affair.

  • Comment number 57.

    Re LynCooke

    Very true Lyn, and many more organisations like them too.

    Re the top wages the previous head of the FSA earned over £650,000 (Tiner) and as you say Hants total package including a large bonus in excess of £100k which was donated to charity, is in excess of £700,000 including everything. Nice bonus for bankrupting the UK. No-one can believe they kept Hants.

    Incidentally Tiner's leaving party of over £30k was paid for as a business expense on HMS Belfast.

    They have some of the most expensive offices at Canary Wharf, but most of the industry they regulate is not in London. They bought pieces of art some in excess of £150,000 to hang on their walls.

    Many of the top people have no experience at all in the areas they are 'supposed' to control.

    Re the qualifications you asked about, under freedom of information this has recently been released, most of them are not qualified even to basic adviser level, most have not been any other than in a tied environment-banks usually, yet the majority of business in the UK is transacted by IFAs, the FSA replied and said words to the effect of that because their staff do not advise they do not require qualifications!! Quite how they check the likes of my IFAs work without qualifications and experience is a mystery.

    this was all documented in my local IFAs trade paper while I waited to go in I could not believe it as all of the staff have to pass umpteen more exams and the top qualified people also need to do some more work!!

    You are spot on Lyn, their budget is now over £400m, effectively a tax on anyone who uses financial services through an unseen stealth tax paid for by the industry but ultimately the consumer.

    The people on the street are being taken for mugs, this is the new rich!

    Management and other public sector workers all in the top 15% of earners in the UK and some in the top 5%!!!!!

    Up with people who's families have owned large businesses for generations and the leaders of huge profitable industry!!!

  • Comment number 58.

    I work for an organisation approached by Panorama to take part. We were told by the production team that this was a serious look at the issue of executive pay, looking into the roles and responsibilities of those concerned. What I saw on screen last night was nothing like that. Instead it was largely judgement via the court of public opinion. The issue was trivialised by getting people to guess, game show style, how much people earn. The incredulity in the reporter's voice when a member of the public said she'd quite happily pay twice as much for the person she was being asked about said it all about the approach that was being taken. I am all for openness and transparency, but Freedom of Information is damaging confidence in public services due to the black and white nature of the debate. We will end up knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing. As for Panorama, this so-called flagship current affairs programme has dumbed down so much it is little more than a TV version of the Daily Mail. It is also ironic that Jeremy Vine, who fronted the programme, is reportedly paid over £1 million a year - more than any of those featured.

  • Comment number 59.

    so it looks like all the comments above are saying almost the same thing. so what is one person to do about it, 'negitive freedom' is what this is... just venting but no action.

  • Comment number 60.

    far worse than this if you look deeper, the telegraph wrote an article about housing associations who provide social housing to those most in need in communities. Its a disgrace how many senior staff in those are earning more than the prime minister. How about another investigation Panorama

  • Comment number 61.

    re health or wealth

    not my idea, but a good one, is that these jobs should be on a salary bidding basis starting at a sensible but low level ie £80k as an example for a job currently paying £200k, topping out at a specified sum, this way the tax payer can be certain that it really is market forces costing them this salary.

    Of course in tandem all of these positions, over a specified salary level, should be checked by an outside HR company who tender for the work, to see if the job description is purposefully restricted to load a position towards one candidate.

    Many positions even though they are publicly advertised are virtually impossible for outside candidates to fill.

    I advise consultants who work for government, many of these counsultants wondered why I do not take a part time position in one of the posts which only covers my area of expertise, I could do that part time work and my current position, those posts are not open to anyone who has not been in a higher role not connected to that particular function, this means that the highest salaried individuals in that profession only do that type of work, which naturally inflates the cost of the work!

    If you are more highly skilled in private industry than your public servant counterpart just for the hell of it apply for the position and see how far you get. Market forces are not the factor here.

  • Comment number 62.

    It was interesting and heartwarming hearing the Middlesborough residents positive reaction to their chief constable's pay. Its easy to see the value when you are close to the results. Generally complainers miss the point that it's not really about whether individuals are worth it but about a cultural attitude of penny pinching and risk aversion. Its been about cost cutting for a very long time - its hardly a new thing! These people are expected to be magicians, delivering cuts whilst improving services. Its schizophrenic to incentivise in the private sector whilst expecting people to work for love or duty in the public sector. It frightens me that an institution like the BBC seems so hand in glove with the Government agenda to make fools of us all and distract us with scapegoats. But I guess that's what Mark Thompson £800K + is for.

  • Comment number 63.

    Firstly, comparing the pay of public sector executives to the Prime Minister is a nonsense. All recent PMs know that whatever they are paid now they will be made for life once they finish the job and the millions start rolling in.

    Secondly, why was there no comparison with the top earners in the private sector. I guess because there wouldn't have been a story. In the private sector you can earn £100,000 plus a year being in charge of half a dozen people. In fact I know one who is at that level in charge of only 1 person. How does that compare with running a hospital or running a school.

    I've seen in our company more and more directors over the years, most have no idea what they are doing, but get paid £250,000 a year or more.
    They would claim that their job is risky but if they make a huge mistake they get shown the door with a huge pay-off and get another directors job else where.

    Just look at how many directors there are from the failed banks now being employed elsewhere.

  • Comment number 64.

    re free_speech

    That is a revelation to me, considering my career is in private industry has been in a few private industries before now writing down people's salaries as part of my private industry business.

    I only deal with the top 15% of society, one public sector worker at the levels mentioned in this programme have more wealth just in their pension scheme than many self made, succesful business people with inheritances from past generations, forgetting the public sector manager's assets.

    You maybe have managed to find one example, but there are 60 million people in the UK, I can assure you that many of these positions could be filled by equally as capable individuals for less than 25% of the salary in the very high level jobs and a percentage of the salary in the lower paid management roles.

    I look at people's accounts and look at their wage slips, mine is from a position of knowing not invention.

    The criticism of the programme I have is avoiding the worst examples.

    You select banking as one example, not many of us would have sympathy there, but how many people did lose their jobs at top levels and how many kept them?

    What are the figures you quote from?

  • Comment number 65.

    I am someone who has recently entered the public sector, as a social worker employed by the NHS. I firmly believe that the state should provide health and social care and therefore would like to remain in the public sector for the remainder of my career.

    Whilst my motivation for entering my profession has little to do with money, I would still like to think that if I do well and achieve I can earn enough to have a comfortable existence. However this programme started from the assumption that people fulfilling some of society's most important roles are not as important as the private sector's high fliers. I have no great desire to earn hundreds of thousands of pounds a year, but I would like to feel that my role is valued occassionally.

    I feel that Panorama failed to demonstrate the complexities of the issues surrounding public sector funding in general, or ask the key question of why these people earn what they earn. I don't believe it really even asked the question "should these people earn what they earn?" It was simply taken for granted that they should not earn large sums of money and was from there a targeted witch hunt against certain individuals.

  • Comment number 66.

    Re U2281215

    I did not see the same angle on this as you did. Teachers, nurses, doctors local authority workers or their direct in line managers had nothing to do with this programme, the nearest to that was the one exceptional case headteacher.

    These were the ultra highly paid only and their contribution questioned.

    Think of this another way, of all of the top managers you know in public service how many are recruited from private industry?

    I know none, so how are they competing with outside industry on salaries? They are simply competing with salaries below them in their own employment area only, so why multiples of managers below them?

    Managers in public service pitch their job as equal to someone in a national company, yet the top manager in a national company has no support at all, they are top of the tree, no government above them, no bodies, guidance or assistance and certainly no money passed to them guaranteed.

    Many highly paid public sector jobs are localised, ie in a city, or county or region, the firm's managers they match themselves to are usually national multi site companies even ones with international trade, ie 70 or more sites, operations across the UK and the islands or the UK and abroad are more difficult to control. most public sector jobs are regional so why arent they matching themselves to private 'regional managers'?

    Small national businesses with lower paid managers ie £150k usually run multi site operations with typically billions of pounds turnover.

    These public sector managers are selecting out of the top 5-10% of wealthy people in the country. That is wealthy people not just top earners. They point to the most outlandish managers in society to match themselves against, investment bankers? Head of national banks with titles? What about a regional manager at Aldi? A regional manager of Tesco? Regional manager of one of the large bus companies?

    You get an idea of how far off the mark these managers and so called directors are when you see who they see themselves as matched too.

    Way off the mark in 90% of cases.

  • Comment number 67.

    I did some thinking about this, for all the bloggers above...................the NHS and social care systems have trained professionals and none trained professional who are committed to wellbeing and recovery for the population of the UK the workforce comes from all sectors of society from upper class, middle class to working class, and all have a knowing that everything they do will be held to account. Each professional is trained and is subject to governance processes that scrutinise every action they take. Each professional is accountable for their actions, (and the actions of those they supervise) are held to account by the public (e.g. the NHS constitution) and have to maintain and uphold their professional code of conduct also keeping up to date with the ever developing health and social care agenda , research and evidence bases. The public sectors are heavily scrutinised.... please stop comparing the public sector to private industry, it’s a smokescreen. THE GOVERMENT are accountable and they go every five years the BANKS don’t , the people have to rely on Banks and have no choices unlike the health and social care sector who are obliged to give choice for all.


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