Councils must curb top salaries, says minister
Councils have been told to curb the pay of senior staff after figures suggested more than 28,000 are receiving at least £50,000 a year.
The Taxpayers' Alliance, which campaigns for lower taxes, said this had cost almost £1.9bn last year.
Local government minister Brandon Lewis said many councils had to "get a grip" and make "sensible savings".
But councils said the number of middle and senior managers they employed compared "favourably" with elsewhere.
The TPA has calculated that at least 28,754 staff working for councils across the UK were paid more than £50,000 last year.
This represents a drop of 3,991 staff on the previous year, with the total cost down by £270m.
But the TPA said the fall, in part, reflected the large number of redundancy payments made in 2010/11, which temporarily increased bills.
End Quote Local Government Association
Councils provide more than 700 local services....we need good managers to make sure those jobs are done well”
Mr Lewis said: "For too long the senior local government pay bill has spiralled up and up, and taxpayers have been left footing the bill," he said.
"While I commend those councils taking action, there are still many others failing to get a grip on costs.
"This report exposes the fact that town halls still have massive scope to make sensible savings to protect important front-line services and freeze council tax."
Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: "Taxpayers are still paying far too much for bloated bureaucracies that have been established in too many town halls over the last decade.
"Councillors need to insist that their local authority does more to find savings and cut back on staff costs that residents cannot afford."
However, the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils, said the fall in the pay bill for senior staff - down 12.5% on 2010-11 - was "good news" for council tax payers.
A spokesman added: "Middle and senior managers make up around 1% of the total local government workforce, which compares favourably with practices elsewhere in the public and private sectors.
"Councils provide more than 700 local services, from fixing the roads and collecting the bins to caring for the elderly and safeguarding children. We need good managers to make sure those jobs are done well."
The LGA challenged the TPA's assertion that the fall was due to the high numbers of redundancy payments in 2010-11, arguing that redundancy costs were probably higher in 2011-12.