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Should there be restrictions on council pay?

09:20 UK time, Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said councils in England must change the way they set pay packets for their highest earning employees. Will this help make local councils more accountable or is the government just trying to score points in the battle between local and central government?

Eric Pickles wants to amend legislation so that councillors would be required to vote on plans to offer any employees a salary of more than £100,000.

Earlier this week, research by Incomes Data Services revealed that 15 council chief executives in England and Wales earned more than £200,000 a year - more than Prime Minister David Cameron. Is that too much?

Mr Pickles has refuted critics who say the measure is a political attempt to deflect attention from the big cuts in services the government is forcing local authorities to make.

What do you think of the plans? Will this ensure that staff salaries become "democracy proofed", as Mr Pickles claims?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Why can't he as easily legislate to control Banks then.
    I was under the impression that elected councillors already voted on staffing issues such as posts & pay. Another government by gimick initiative?

  • Comment number 2.

    Well as the public pay their wages of course there should be restrictions.

    Although this is a good idea in theory I bet it won't change anything. The leeches earning 200k will continue to earn 200k.

  • Comment number 3.

    I would prefer to see a ban on any council staff being paid more than £100k.
    But I suppose this is as much as we are going to get to curb the excesses of our local councils.

  • Comment number 4.

    There should be an absolute maximum salary of (say) £125,000 per annum for anyone who works in public sector - be they Chief Executives, NHS Consultants,Professors,whatever.
    Those that think they are worth more can find another employer who will match their self value,(for everyone of the above who leaves I guarantee that someone will step up from the ranks to do an equally good job!)
    Maybe then, the ones at the bottom of the pile will get paid enough to live on without needing subsidy from the state.

  • Comment number 5.

    Generally speaking the people who fill this kind of post are head hunted for the job. Those doing the hunting know what they have to pay to get the person they want. That means you have a very good idea what it's going to cost you before you start. Comparison with the PM is pointless, the rate for that job has been kept low on purpose, to get a good comparison look at company's in the private sector with similar turnover to Councils and see what they pay their CEO.

  • Comment number 6.

    There should be restrictions on all public sector pay - applied by thoase who pay for it. Us!

    In the case of councils, it should be voted for at local elections, not decided by councillors who want an easy life with a pliable Chief Exec.

  • Comment number 7.


    Why should the Executives in these Councils not tell the voters how much they are paid? The Government does so why shouldn't they?

    I am not being political here just expecting them to be open with my Council Tax payment please.


  • Comment number 8.

    Yes, I think there should be a limit. This is not money which is earned from providing goods and making a profit. It also seems regrettable that councils at times seem to have little accountability.

    At the same time, we need people in place who are good at what they do. I know there are many people on the minimum wage, and £100,000 will sound incredibly high. I would raise the £100,000 to a maximum of £150,000 to attract people in - but no more.

  • Comment number 9.

    "Should there be restrictions on council pay?"

    Of course there should. Councils seem to have got the idea that they can spend what they like then, if they run out of cash, just demand more

    It's always easy to spend somebody elses money, especially where you don't have any limits or redress against you

  • Comment number 10.

    Not a council employee as such, but some years ago the Police force I worked for went from using 'converted Policemen' as their Transport manager to importing an acknowledged expert from Industry. They had to pay 'Industry' rates to get and retain him. HIs expertise led to savings that more than paid for his salary in the first year. His buying policies saved hundreds of thousands of pounds a year and his reorganisation of the workshops made them the most efficient, even when measured against the commercial world.
    It might be unpalatable but there is a link between salary and ability, with the Public Sector needing to pay the same rates as the rest of the world. On that basis the councillors would vote for the appropriate salary as required. with the additional costs of extra council meetings.
    It could be that the problem with Public Sector salary is that the Public sector is not run as a business, and is bounded by rules set over 100 years ago.

  • Comment number 11.

    yes I do believe there should be top pay restrictions but not just in councils,are we behind others in our health care because consultants are taking too much out of the pot,health care has improved but we are still behind in supplying the top new advances in medical equipment to our hospitals ,also you have many low payed workers in the country ,yet those at the top of some of those companys get exhorbitant salarys perhaps there should be some acceptable differential,certainly within financial services the wage gaps enormous there are numerous other examples ,im afraid all the time you have the greedy you will have the needy

  • Comment number 12.

    the value of the £200,000 set against what £200,000 is worth in the pocket or the in the bank plus the value of the person in big society reconing,is somthing for scientist and economists to get focussed on with some speed due to the cost of living,inflation,and government meddling in the affairs of local authorities.Mr Erick Pickles must be tickled pink by his discovery of large pay packets held in the hands of chief executives,while thousands of local government employees are being turned out of work.

  • Comment number 13.

    The pay for top people at councils has got totally out of hand. When you add in their pension contributions, bonuses and golden hellos and goodbyes it amounts to even more that the publicised salary.

    The chief executive of the district council where I live is now shared with another council 50/50. Which begs the question: if we can manage with him only 50% of the time in these difficult times what on earth was he doing when he got twice as much and hung around twice as long?

  • Comment number 14.

    "Should there be restrictions on council pay?"

    ALL public sector pay and pensions need to be realigned with the current economic state of the nation.

    In a sensible economy public sector cost would rise and fall with the state of the nations coffers.

    A fixed % perhaps of GDP could be allocated for the public sector then it would not be such a fixed cost burden on the private and productive part of the economy.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comparison with the PM’s salary is frequently quoted by the media and has also been stated by Grant Shapps, the Minister for Housing and Planning. However, it appears to me that you are comparing the total package of a council employee against the salary of the PM. Research shows that that the PM’s total package is much more than the salary that he chooses to draw and is actually in the region of £580,000. In addition, as the interim report of the Hutton Review of Fair Pay in the public sector states,

    “The Prime Minister’s pay is not objectively linked to the value of his job, or to the need to recruit and retain individuals….The Prime Minister’s salary has no relation to labour markets. There is not a shortage of applicants….and there is no market or recruitment process for Prime Ministers”.

    Therefore, it is not logical to compare it with the salary of local government executives. A comparison with senior civil servants would be more in order. I should also point out that salaries for local government chief executives are already decided by the local councillors involved in the interview process. They are elected by and represent the local community. Therefore, it is, in effect, the local community who are setting these salaries.

  • Comment number 16.

    I Think the article yesterday about the PM's true pay (with all perks and allowances shows that it is a poor comparison).
    Councils should not squander ratepayers cash on too high salaries and costly schemes that profit no-one except councillors.
    Pickles in his best Jabba the Hutt manner is just trying so score points by pointing out the obvious.

  • Comment number 17.

    The interview panel for Local Authority employees is normally chaired by an elected representative. That representative should have the power to determine the remuneration offered, but that fact that Eric Pickles sees fit to introduce enabling legislation it appears they do not have that power.
    Central government employees are appointed by the Civil Service; the elected representatives have no say. Is Eric Picles going to introduce similar requirements for the Civil Service? Why are Senior Civil Service salaries secret? What are they?
    As an ex-civil servant it is my opinion that senior public sector salaries are too high and should be cut.

  • Comment number 18.

    Whilst I'll buy that some of the highest council salaries are a little too high, IMHO, I can only wonder as to whether this is a test of a plan to encompass all public sector workers.

  • Comment number 19.

    This hoo ha about Council Salaries is simply the latest in a stream of bureaucratic nonsense - from M.P's expenses to Banker's Bonuses, from wasteful Foreign Aid to cosy Council sinecures , and of course the latest universal panacea- "The Big Society" - why on earth should staff salaries be "inflation proof" Joe Public doesn't have guaranteed inflation proofing for salaries or anything else - I propose the George Orwell's "Animal Farm" should become compulsory reading for all M.P's and publicly financed bureaucrats, and of course anyone else who wants to see how it will all end !

  • Comment number 20.

    Why stop there, I wonder? Of course the dreaded bankers springs to mind. What about many talentless so called " celebs" who earn millions strutting their so called stuff without benefiting anyone. The guys who empty the bins in my street and keep it clean certainly contribute more to society than some people I could name. But then who ever said that life was fair? I suggest that Mr. Pickles gets this net spread further afield. There are many out there who get paid too much and many out there who don't get paid enough.

  • Comment number 21.

    Yes, there should most definitely be restrictions on any publuc servant, including bankers.

  • Comment number 22.

    After lecturing us for decades about the free market and fighting bitterly over bankers' salaries and bonuses, droning on about how businesses need to be able to attract and incentivise the best people, how can they now say that the public sector can operate without doing the same?

    What a bunch of hypocrites.

  • Comment number 23.

    Chief Executives, in the majority local authorities, are not employed from within local authorities - based on knowledge, training, experience, hard work and ultimate promotion to the post of Chief Exec?

    Most Chief Exec posts for LAs are advertised out to those from the private sector or take on Chief Execs who have been failures from other LAs the repeat the same cycle of failure elsewhere - with a secret ex-gratia payment to leave and huge pension scheme.

    So, Mr Pickles, it's not just salaries that are a problem - it's the whole culture of hiring and firing Chief Executives within all Local Authorities that has to be tackled.

  • Comment number 24.

    Just another Con job by the Lib/Cons trying to divert attention from their mean- minded attacks on the
    neediest in the country. i.e linking the State Pension to Salaries at a time when most salaries are not going up
    but the cost of living is rising and has almost reached 5%. The trouble is that the mean-minded multi millionaires who are in Government today have no idea of the value of £1 and the misery they inflict on the many thousands of OAPs who have to survive on the State Pension.

  • Comment number 25.

    Here we go again the chief executives of organisations far smaller than a local authority get paid in excess of £1 million 40,000 city bookies get paid in excess of £250,000 (before bonuses) over 5000 of them more than a million the average GP gets paid £130,000.

    23 Members of the Cabinet are Multi Millionaires (Not including Mr Pickles has he got the hump?)
    And Eric Pickels thinks the chief officers of organizations with budgets and staff levels bigger than some countries should earn a maximum of what Wayne Rooney earns in about 45 minutes.

  • Comment number 26.

    This is just another whitewash to try and take our minds of the pressing issue of why they have done nothing regarding the banks pay scales.
    Conform of boot them out unceremoniously.
    Just shows how wet lettuce this government is, it picks on the easy targets.....The Tax payer.
    What they seem to forget is that these people will make up as many excuses as to why they are essential to buisness. A bit like when the rich said they would leave the UK if the Labour party got in...they are still here(previous election) Bankers and high paid council workers will always justify their own. However no one is indespensable. Plenty more people with the skills that can take their places.
    Besdides that I'd rather have a little inexperience than a bunch of crooks running the show.

  • Comment number 27.

    I don't mind the "top" council employees being well paid as long as they pull their weight and can justify why they feel they deserve to take home so much of the taxpayer's money!

  • Comment number 28.

    Yes. There should be a limit of somewhere around £100K. Despite "Tio Terry"s contention that they're "head hunted" they're taken from a pool of "qualified" people, ie those who've run other, usually smaller, councils. They're not head hunted from a wider population of equally-or-more-qualified business people.

    There's also very little "risk" in the job. Most councils seem not to be doing a very good job. Costs go up - usually faster than inflation - while services get worse. In most private businesses a CEO would be in with a fair chance of losing his/her job in these circumstances, assuming that the company didn't go bust, but there don't seem to be many top job changes in local government.

    And please, don't reply with the ineviatble bleat about "bankers"... It was a brilliant PR manouver from the politicians to deflect blame from themselves - and it's worked superbly.

  • Comment number 29.

    Total compensation should be a function of personal and collective performance - just like everywhere else in the normal working world. I want to see independent auditors scrutinise every penny of tax payer money that is spent/invested in every council up and down the UK.

  • Comment number 30.

    When public sector workers get paid more than private sector workers, what incentive is that for buisness?

    Quite simply none, for the private buisness's or the people that work in those buisness.

    Sort the Banks out first Cammeron and stop trying to avoid the issue.

  • Comment number 31.

    Yes of course we, the paymasters, should be aware of how our money is being distributed. Yes we vote for the councillors who approve the pay scales but unless we know what they are approving how do we judge their performance. They might not get voted back in should we discover the figures.

  • Comment number 32.

    Don't start me off on this one!

    Council chiefs and their deputies and their deputy deputies have justified their significant increases in pay by comparing their job with the private sector! They quote number of employees, turnover and all number of comparatives. And the local authority councillors have been blind-sided and accepted these arguments! (The same arguments have been used to justift the pay increases of head-teachers and college/university principals)
    Too many councillors have no idea what actually happens in commerce/industry and the differences between local government and the private sector!
    In the case of council chiefs, the argument that thay control staff and budgets equivalent to a CEO in private industry might hold good just looking at those parameters.
    Council chiefs operate within a budget set by the government and the council, a CEO has to SET the budget. A CEO has to go out and sell the companies products/services (I don't see council chiefs doing that!) I could go on!

    This is an example of Worcestershire County Council

    "The total wage bill for all eight senior officers at County Hall, which needs to make savings of about £45 million by 2014, comes to £922,379, based on them earning the most in their salary range".

    They also get other allowances on top of salaries! (Not forgetting their generous pensions!)

    End of rant!

  • Comment number 33.

    It is not just the salaries of a relatively few high earners in local government but the crass financial management they oversee. And it is no use HMG simply reducing their central support grant to LG; they should impose a total cap on their budgets. That means there really will have to be a choice between "meals on wheels" or the aquistion of brand new executive 4x4 police cars within their capped budget. Such decisions are transparent but hard to find; but find them we must if we are to vote for councillors who live in the real world in which their electorate live. We really must induce sucessful business managers the private sector into LG key posts to operate within a capped budget.

  • Comment number 34.

    Yes of course there should, why should they get any more pay than anyone else? There are people losing their jobs left right and centre and there are people struggling to pay for basic things like food and bills. We taxpayers pay their wages and I for one want restrictions.

  • Comment number 35.

    If these salaries are limited, then you will not get the right quality of staff. I am not sure that people realise the responsibilities held by these Chief Executives. My partner is one and earns three times more than I do - but then I have no staff or budgetary responsibility, whilst my partner is responsible for 13,000 people and a budget of £1 billion.

    My partner leaves the house (a nice but relatively modest one!) at 0630hrs in the morning and is often not home until late evening. I suspect that none of the employees put in these hours, which are far in excess of the Working Time Directive. Stress levels are huge, attempting to re-structure the organisation to achieve the kind of efficiencies that are being quite rightly demanded and making difficult decisions concerning people’s livelihoods. Changing an organisation is not an easy task. This has to be done whilst treading a careful path through the political aspirations of the Council members. The kind of savings demanded by government cannot be achieved simply by cutting excessive chief executives pay. I think the chief executives of most of our councils are earning every penny of their salaries as they attempt to deliver savings.

    So Comment 6, yes, it could be voted on but only if the people who are voting really understand what they are voting about. Doubtful.

    Comment 7, they do put their salaries in the public domain. Check your local Council Website.

    Comment 13. Good idea. Perhaps the PM could also take responsibility for Wales and Scotland, rather than only running England. That might save some money too.

  • Comment number 36.

    All council jobs pay and pensions should be directly under the control of councillors then as voters we can vote them out of office if we dislike their decisions to pay too much. This must include pensions, bonuses and other perks available to council staff. And by council staff I include all those whose pay is from the council tax budget including the police, fire service and teachers.

  • Comment number 37.

    Too right there should be a maximum level of pay but it must not be left to the corruptible councillors or other town hall staff. The need for an administrative jobsworth and any pay levels should be at the behest of the people they should be serving ie the electorate. Unfortunately the corrupt MPs we have at present and had over the last decades are too busy lining their own pockets and the pockets of their friends to listen to the people

  • Comment number 38.

    Post 10 - Talks about a public official recruited from the private sector who was able to show measureable cost savings from the way he ran his department. To me that is a very good case for a bonus incentive scheme for achieving specific results but still no reason to provide an expensive salary, benefits and pension that the rest of us have to pay for.

  • Comment number 39.

    Yes. I don't understand why anyone in the public sector should earn more than the Prime Minister; he's the man at the top, he should earn the highest salary.

    It's a disgrace that council execs are cutting front-line services whilst holding onto their gold-plated salaries and pensions.

    Cut ALL public service salaries to below £100K; those public servants who don't like it, and who keep dragging up the old chestnut about being able to earn more in the private sector, can go out there and try it....Good Luck!!

  • Comment number 40.

    My perception of council workers is they have life a little too cosy. Thye are insulated from the harsh reality of commercial life, funded by the legal extortion of whatever monies they please from local residents.
    It used to be that such people were paid less than their commercial counterparts in exchange for job security and a good pension.
    These days council workers are paid more, still have the final salary pensions and we are expected to fund any deficit in that.
    The whole manner of determining who is paid what and the fringe benefits such as pensions and relaxed attitudes to sickness requires an independent review and if needs must, a reduction in public sector pay.

  • Comment number 41.

    I think the UK average salary is about £26k.
    Having worked for a district council in the past then going to a private company for double the salary doing the same job, I had the opinion that people chose council jobs for the job security, pension & the easier life (which it really was).
    The idea that anyone at that council is paid over £100k is appalling since the level of service cuts in the area.

  • Comment number 42.

    I have never really understood the difference between private and public pay espoused by those with apparently nonsensical logic. The person in the street pays whichever way it is, and, to be honest, I have seldom met anyone who merits more or less than a decent life on this planet. And when I register their kindness in helping to pay my way, I find they register my kindness in helping to pay their way. It is only when we start to grapple with the detail that there is anything resembling a ruck starting, and I find myself quite understanding that it is often the one with the least who gets the most upset. And I also remember that old adage that says "what goes around..."

  • Comment number 43.

    Should there be restrictions on council pay?

    Yes, but it also should apply to the private sector, too!

  • Comment number 44.

    4. At 09:43am on 16 Feb 2011, Exiledblade wrote:
    There should be an absolute maximum salary of (say) £125,000 per annum for anyone who works in public sector - be they Chief Executives, NHS Consultants,Professors,whatever.
    Those that think they are worth more can find another employer who will match their self value,(for everyone of the above who leaves I guarantee that someone will step up from the ranks to do an equally good job!)
    Maybe then, the ones at the bottom of the pile will get paid enough to live on without needing subsidy from the state.


    If I need expert and urgent surgery, I would rather it was by a top-paid consultant who was at the top because he was good enough, not someone at the top who got there because the best decided to go elsewhere!

    I do think that the idea that £100K is such a vast salary is simply because the gaps between the lowest and the highest paid have become huge, not because £100K is really that high (I have never earned that much, BTW).

  • Comment number 45.

    2. At 09:39am on 16 Feb 2011, LabLibConsAreCROOKS wrote:

    Well as the public pay their wages of course there should be restrictions.

    Although this is a good idea in theory I bet it won't change anything. The leeches earning 200k will continue to earn 200k.
    Irrespective of political colour you have to pay senior staff a big wage otherwise they might start thinking for themselves. Most councils need a "yes" man (or woman)at the top to push through stupid decisions. It is amazing how many £200k+ chief execs can change from left leaning to rabid right wing in a day after an election.
    Get rid of 40 or 50 school cleaners who do something useful does not get near the wage of a single chief exec yet we all know where the axe will fall. I agree, I do not expect change.

  • Comment number 46.

    The pay of some local authority staff is ludicrously high, of course the justification used for most, if not all, of these salaries was compatibility with the private sector which leads into a different question which is, is there too big a gap between the salaries of the highest and lowest paid employees regardless of sector, to which the answer is also yes. Society is actually becoming more divided wealth wise.
    The last figures available are for 2003 when The wealthiest 1 per cent owned 34% of the UK's marketable wealth minus the value of dwellings, (an increase of 8% over 1996). The most wealthy 50% owned 99% of the marketable wealth minus the value of dwellings (an increase of 5% from 1996.)
    The reason for using figures minus value of dwellings is that the less well off often have what wealth they do have tied up in their home which is not particularly economically useful, you've got it on paper but can't actually spend it.

  • Comment number 47.

    21. At 09:56am on 16 Feb 2011, RedandYellowandGreennotBlue wrote:
    Yes, there should most definitely be restrictions on any publuc servant, including bankers.


    I don't think bankers are public servants!

  • Comment number 48.

    You will not get anyone to accept the levels of responsibility associated with these jobs at the levels of pay Mr Pickles suggests.

    It is about time this disgrace of a government accepts that it takes skill and competence to run large organisations irrespective of if it is public or private.

    Mr Pickles Get real there are over 40,000 city Bookies (half bailed out by us) earning MORE than ANY PUBLIC SECTOR Employee.

    Grow up and target those with the money and those responsible for the deficit,Oh I forgot they are your parties pay masters so no danger of that happening when there is a public employee to blame!

  • Comment number 49.

    A Chief Exec and Senior Management team from the private sector "set the agenda" for their organization and directly define and maintain their organization's board-level strategies. In the public sector, however, it is the councillors who set the agenda (that's why we elect them) together with Central Government (via legislation). The Chief Exec and Senior Management team in a council should, therefore, be only defining and maintaining their councils' board-level strategies. Ask any council employee how well Council senior management teams do that and you will have your answer as to why those employees believe Chief Execs and Senior Management in councils are paid too much - and why comparisons with industry just don't hold water.

  • Comment number 50.

    WHEN DO OUR POLITICIANS BECOME ACCOUNTABLE THROUGH RIGHT OF RECALL. Everybody is being held accountable except them. As usual those most accountable are the bottom of the pile working class.

  • Comment number 51.

    Personally I don't think anyone on earth deserves or needs to earn more than £100,000. And what's all this rubbish saying you can't compare it with the PM's salary etc. ? They are all public servants - the public should be able to decide how much to pay them, instead of them choosing their own salaries. We should at least be able to easily see exactly how much every one of our public servants is paid, after all WE are paying them.

  • Comment number 52.

    Comment 28: "They're taken from a pool of "qualified" people, ie those who've run other, usually smaller, councils. They're not head hunted from a wider population of equally-or-more-qualified business people."

    That's not true. They do often come from other sectors but, also, what's wrong with appointing someone who has already had experience in a smaller organisation to then run a larger one? Not sure I follow your logic.

    Comment 28: "There's also very little "risk" in the job. Most councils seem not to be doing a very good job. Costs go up - usually faster than inflation - while services get worse. In most private businesses a CEO would be in with a fair chance of losing his/her job in these circumstances, assuming that the company didn't go bust, but there don't seem to be many top job changes in local government."

    This is also not true. It's a very risky job and Chief Execs disappear with alarming regularity. It might even be just due to a change in leadership in the council.

  • Comment number 53.

    This Government is likely to bring "spin" to a new level and to behave in a more centralised way than ever.

    They have no real strategy and policies to back up what they are doing. Everything it seems is based on "soundbite" politics to masquerade and conceal what is really happening.

    On the one hand they suggest they will get tough with the Banks then cave in with a watered down Merlin appesement. Then to cover their incompetence and embarassment they issue a decree that we should stop bashing the bankers...even when the excessive bonuses continue and no real reform is going to take place (the Banking lobby is alive and well within the corridors of Westminster).

    On the otherhand they want to villify Local Government and curb their pay and also tell them how to run their councils. So how does this square with decentralising decision making from Westminster when they then state they will use legislation to fix Councils executive pay. What happens to free market forces in this instance, what if there is a brain drain of public sector execs (as was alledged to be the case with bankers - going elsewhere).

    Much of what this Government claimed it would change is in fact turning out to be quite the opposite whereby they are rushing changes through on everything centrally without having a credible alternative or based on sound expert advice and economic principles.

    It is true "Power Corrupts" - because we can.

    Clegg and Cameron have conned the electorate merely to have their 5 years of fame.

  • Comment number 54.


  • Comment number 55.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 56.

    Myth number 1 - we will only get the best if we pay 'market' rates. Myth number 2 - we will not be able to recruit the calibre of staff required without market rate pay. Myth number 3 - someone who has previously been employed in a high power high pay position must be extremely capable. Reality number 1 - (envy) market rate pay is self perpetuating feeding on the fear of organisations to match their perceived competitors and not to do what is best for their unique organisation. Reality number 2 (fear) High levels of pay will attract ladder climbers who's only interest is self financial advancement. They have the legal and educational base to ensure beneficial contracts that protect remuneration even if they do not or cannot preform. Reality no 3 (shortsightedness) Past performance or employment trail is not a measure of future capability. A long list of previous prestigious appointments is viewed as positive in positions of high pay and prestige, but an average worker with a list of past employment as long as your arm is seen as unreliable and not worth investing time and money in. Finally if high pay is a measure of success this country would be prosperous and looking towards the future with hope and eagerness, it is not.

  • Comment number 57.

    I remember as a young man (44-45 years ago) visiting my favourite Chester town centre pub in the afternoon and seeing highly paid County Council executives propping up the bar getting sloshed until closing time whilst bragging about sleeping it off back at the office at the rate payers expense, it really did shock me.

    I've never forgot the experience and consequently have a deep mistrust of what I consider to be an unaccountable, grossly overpaid over privileged profession which I hope will come under some public scrutiny at last. The execs are never subjected to value for money criteria, why not?

  • Comment number 58.

    This is just a money for old boys + girls club, it is not unique to councils, its is endemic where ever public money is sloshed out.
    Want to get rich, forget working your way up, join the local prominent political party, grease a few backs and they will stick a parachute on your back and land you straight through the open topped gravy train in to the money seat......

  • Comment number 59.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 60.

    Comparisons are made between the earnings of council employees, and the PM. Would it not be better to compare these employees earnings to someone who actually works for a living, rather than a fantasist with nothing between his ears except the "the big society"?

  • Comment number 61.

    Level of pay should reflect level of responsibility. I have no objection to a 6-figure salary for a council chief exec if (s)he is doing a good job.

    Perhaps central government should review the cost-effectiveness of employing £1000-a-day consultants to do "ordinary" civil servants' work.

  • Comment number 62.

    Yes limit the pay of the big earners in local government. Few have come up with bright ideas - the fortnightly wheely bin collections, the high charges for pest control, etc. all make our lives so much better.

    Come to think of it the pay of other big earners needs review. Does the millionaire PM and his cabinet need over £100? Do the bankers, university VCs, heads of charities....?

    But do not forget that this discussion is a failed attempt to divert interest from the fact that services provided by councils will be adversely affected by government cuts. I look forward to the day when the country's debts are paid. Bad old Gordon Brown for creating all these problems. Soon it will be May and the first anniversary of the blame Brown argument.

  • Comment number 63.

    Obviously, the last lack of government created a massive increase in public expenditure and it has to be brought back under control.


  • Comment number 64.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 65.

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

  • Comment number 66.

    Lets have a go at everyone , banks , councils o and don`t forget mp`s when is this witch hunt going to end !! how long til the next election please hurry up we are all fed up already.

  • Comment number 67.

    There should be similar restrictions on pay in commercial companies - especially any which get involved in delivering public services. If the economic crisis is as bad as we are constantly being told, no employee should be paid more than £100,000 - including all bonuses Etc.

  • Comment number 68.

    It seems to me that those at the top regardless of the of the type of job they do have all jumped on the big pay packet band wagon.

    It has become think of a number not the correct rate for the position they hold and bonuses should only be paid for outstanding performance and not seen as an entitlement.

    Ordinary workers are having their pay pegged back whilst their bosses are paid outrageous sums of money for doing their job and in a lot of cases poorly. I wouldn't mind but some of them are in their positions because it was their turn not for their ability.

  • Comment number 69.

    Its not just their pay, its what they do, there attitude to the public that needs scrutiny; these people waste millions of our money because they are stuck in the 1970's whilst bleating about the cuts; if they were run properly and efficiently, rather than investing in hotels (eh Eastleigh Council) there would be ample money around.

  • Comment number 70.

    pay of some local authority staff is ludicrously high, -----------The last figures available are for 2003 when The wealthiest 1 per cent owned 34% of the UK's marketable wealth minus the value of dwellings, (an increase of 8% over 1996).

    None of these 1!% are public sector employees unless they have private wealth from elsewhere because they simply don't earn the vast amounts snaffled by the landed and city bookies!

  • Comment number 71.

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

  • Comment number 72.

    The council workers on the front line i.e care -workers' road sweepers-litter pickers and many others are on very low-wages or cut backs 'But they are many layers of B.S. in local government, some at the very top get mega wages and great perks for very little work?{Jobs for the boys?} but thats the way it has been for many years, its the same in all our industrys in the U.K.? Bankers , supermarkets, big business and charitys e.t.c its called market forces' The top people allways get the top money, in our capitalist society. Why are the tory party, going against they own supporters? or is just more spin?

  • Comment number 73.

    No. 35: What an arrogant posting! What world do you inhabit where employees do not leave home early and return late? There are many who would justifiably question your remark. As for the general public not understanding what they are voting for - just what are you saying here? That the majority of people are too thick to understand salary scales and are unable to decide whether someone is worth their pay or not?

  • Comment number 74.

    35. At 10:08am on 16 Feb 2011, Lancaster149 wrote:
    "If these salaries are limited, then you will not get the right quality of staff"

    Yes you would, 99% of council chiefs and their executive teams are recruited within the local government/NGO sector. I do not see many council chiefs moving to the private sector in an equivalent capacity!

    It is omly false comparisons with the private sector that has driven the increase in salary.

  • Comment number 75.

    No, there shouldn't be a salary cap of £100k for a job responsible for multi-million pound budgets. Lets face it, £100k isn't as much as any senior doctor, solicitor or accountant will earn, or as much as many thousands of self employed business owners.

    I'm a leftie, but the fight should be to strive for fairness and equal opportunity so anyone with ability can reach these heights, rather than causing talented people to go elsewhere.

  • Comment number 76.

    "Should there be restrictions on council pay?"

    Absolutely - WE pay them via our Taxes, and WE are struggling.
    We cannot make the neccessary cuts in the jobs of the Public sector, and allow these 'Fatcats' with their obscene pay-levels to continue unaffected.

    It's also time that Footballers pay was looked at. They should realise that the excessive price of Tickets etc, for their financially-struggling Fans - many of whom can no longer afford to go to Matches - is also obscene. They are NO better than the Council 'Fatcats'.

  • Comment number 77.

    Idiot that I am..... I've been taken in again by the ConDem rhetoric! Blame others, create diversions, take the heat off the government, lie, confuse, divert, divide... then get on with implementing the destructive Milton Friedman economic ideology and doing what even Thatcher backed away from. I fell for it again like a naive, amnesiac idiot!

    It seems that we're being subjected to is a series of policy implementations that serve and protect the interests of the wealthy yet being told that this is what's really needed, now go on and just take the medicine that we've thought up for you! Why do you think that they want a fixed 5 year term? Because their policies are so unpopular that they know they'll be chucked out at the first opportunity. I almost swallowed it!

    What's required in UK society today is an HONEST, TRUSTWORTHY, political class that does the job of running the country properly and has the interests of the people that allow them to govern. Not to simply dismantling what the previous government has achieved because their respective ideologies don't coincide. I want them all to remember who they are servants to.....YOU and ME!

    I know this has become a bit of a diatribe rant but these wealthy duplicitous beggars really provoke me in the extreme!

  • Comment number 78.

    the man with the pie in his hand is up to is old thatcher ways trying to conceal bad politics behind his fight for popular cuts aimed at the electorate and their predudice at high earners in this present climate.
    i know this, it is designed at labour councils not TORY ones they can afford pay is the same with the expenses witch hunt in the long run it only as an direct effect on labour MP's the vast majority of TORY's can afford it.another ecxample of economic aparthied brought about by cammeron and his gang.let us hope the new "RAT"catcher cleanses no 10 then proceeds next door to sort that lot out....

  • Comment number 79.

    In the past, local authority expenditure has been controlled by capping. The problem is that this ends up hitting the jobs at the bottom and the services provided to the chargepayer.

    There seems to be a belief that the public sector, at a senior level, should attract pay and conditions comparable to the private sector.

    My own view would be that the private sector is driven by profit and growth. Failure to achieve results in at best loss of appointment, at worst, failure of the business and loss of all the jobs and shareholders capital. Service and product quality have to constantly improve at the same time as cost reduction driven by competition.

    I am at a loss to see the comparison with the management of local government business, where there are no competitive pressures- we cannot ask another authority to empty our bins, or process our planning applications. If the council is inefficient we just pay more or get inferior service, sometimes both. And the Chief Exec keeps his job. Because a number of council activies are not statutory requirements, it's easy to say 'we can't afford to do this any more'.

    Failing businesses go to the wall. Inefficient councils eat money and provide poor quality services, for ever.

    I don't think the drive for improvement will come from within the organisation, after all what's the incentive? How many councillors are competent to question the effectiveness of their council officials? They're volunteers, after all, and have a party line to follow.

  • Comment number 80.

    I do not see any restrictions on council staff salaries will do anything other than encourage the better staff to leave in droves. But living next to a council depot, I do believe there needs to be a closer inspection on quantity of hours many refuse workers actualy work, as localy the average working day seems to be 6 hours at most. Lorries leave depot at 7-00am with horns blaring, only to return between 1-00 & 2-00pm with a rush to get into their cars to leave.

    Where has the 8 hour working day gone? even working without a lunch break, does not equate to a full 8 hour day five days per week with planned overtime Saturdays.

  • Comment number 81.

    Can the also publish their golden hello's and golden good handshakes where they account for more than one months salaray.

    Also publish any pension rights that account for more than 10% of salary

  • Comment number 82.

    Paul J Weighell wrote:

    "Should there be restrictions on council pay?"

    ALL public sector pay and pensions need to be realigned with the current economic state of the nation.

    In a sensible economy public sector cost would rise and fall with the state of the nations coffers.

    A fixed % perhaps of GDP could be allocated for the public sector then it would not be such a fixed cost burden on the private and productive part of the economy.


    What a load of utter rubbish. Under your proposal you are saying that people at the lower end of the scale should have their pay linked to how much money s available.

    Grow up and get in the real world or are you one of these people who thinks only of themselves and in getting a good salary.

  • Comment number 83.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 84.

    Re; posting 9 - Muppet Master. You are spot on - this is exactly how councils think and act. That's part of the reason that council tax has more than doubled in the 13 years of New Labour. And the other part of the reason? Because that's exactly how the Labour Government thought and acted also, well supported and even surpassed in this behaviour by the EU. Is it any wonder that taxes are so high.

  • Comment number 85.

    Management in local government,along with manangement in the public sector generally,has enriched itself spectacularly over the last ten to fifteen years whilst manifestly failing in it's responsibilities as keepers of the public purse..Enormous salaries,generous final salary pension schemes,high levels of sickness benefit payments and goodness knows wnat other perks whilst overseeing a public sector payroll which has skyrocketed.This confirms what most of us already knew which is that bureaucracies serve,primarily,the interests of those who work in them.As everyone also knows,the number of personnel "earning" over £100,000 per annum has trebled in some Councilis over the last five years or so.The Chief Executive of the Council where I used to live in Kent left,not sure why,and received a "golden parachute" payment of over £400,000.The public sector is also rife with examples of managers retiring early or retiring on the grounds of ill health,receiving a large payoff only to surface five miles down the road in another well paid local authority post.Basically,it is jobs for the boys and girls at the taxpayers expense.On top of that,they also receive nice healthy bonus payments.Why this should be the case is beyond me.These people do not make anything nor create wealth,they are simply spending taxpayers money whilst creating rafts of pointless jobs,Bristol has FIVE Diversity Officers.Senior public sector folk constantly try to compare themselves with the private sector in order to justify their extortionate earnings.This is farcical,particularly when they enjoy a degree of job security unhesard of in the commercial world.Councils will never sort out pay and benefits voluntarily,they will have to be forced.Finally,a Council in Lincolnshire is seeking to recruit an official.salary circa £70,000 to sort out and implement the cuts that need to be made.Clearly,this task is beyond the competence of the Chief Executive and the Finance Director.I rest my case.

  • Comment number 86.

    It is all well and good for people to rage against Public Sector Pay and perhaps some of the top scales are indeed high. However the Public Sector worker receives far less pay at the lower grades than the Private Sector. And so called small business owners are in the top 10% of the richest in the UK being assisted by very generous tax breaks and allowances when the Business Owners pay a fair rate of Tax then,and only then, will I join the clamour against the Public Sector show me a cash strapped Business Owner and I will show you a pot of sky blue pink paint. It should never be forgotten that the guiding principle of "Business" is to make the "Workplace a place of hardship,of dedregation and humilty, administered with strictness,with severity and it should be as repulsive as is consistent with the minimum of humanity in order that profit may be maximised". This is the only ethos of "Business" they care for nothing but obscene levels of profit, their second principle is "Devil take the hindmost" Business is always moaning about the Public sector and how it is difficult for them to recruit a workforce, they may care to reflect that in the main the Public Sector offers a chance of a career and on the job training,wheras "Business" offers minimum wage and no career but a short term low paid position and when the profit margin decreases by 0.00000001% then a cull is required in order to finance the Business Owners third or fourth property in the Bahamas.

  • Comment number 87.

    I think it is sensible to allow councilors to set the pay of their top earners, although in practice it is unlikely to change anything. One has to remember that chief executives are running councils which employ thousands of people and this requires a lot of skills that few people have, and that these people would earn at least as much if they were doing a similiar job in the private sector. If their wages were cut councils could potentially get away with it now given the current unemployment levels, but if and when there is a recovery they would have to increase salaries otherwise the more able staff will simply leave. I know people think £200k is a lot of money, and it is, but a good chief executive who runs his council efficiently can save taxpayers millions of pounds

  • Comment number 88.

    I don't believe this statement that a lot of council chief execs get more than the prime minister. When you take into account all the perks the prime minister has, then you could very easily double his salary and then some. However, Council Chief Execs salaries are well out of proportion to the people their Council serves. In example of my area, the average salary is roughly £15,000 or less and the Chief Execs salary is plus £150,000. Where the justification in this is I do not know, but it is a disgusting amount.

    Councils will claim that they have to offer similar sorts of pay scale to the private sector. I think this is totally wrong. Council's are not businesses, they are departments at arms length to the government that service people at local level.
    I agree that transparency in all Government and Council departments should be opened up fully, otherwise there will always be suspicion as to what MP's and Councillors actually get up to and to what extent money is being spent and salaries being paid.

  • Comment number 89.

    As many have already noted - if it's this easy to cap top council employees pay why can't, say, bankers be capped as well ? If running a large council is somewhat analagous to running a large ciy firm why are heads of councils paid so little in comparison ?

    More of an issue is that it doesn't compare like with like - what's Cameron's free acommodation worth ? What about his expenses claims for office staff etc ?

    Then there's the simple fact that people who take on additional responsability expect, not unreasonably, to be paid more.

    Suppose a nurse earns £25,000 - what should the person organising 20 nurses get ? £30,000 ? And the person who organises them ? £40,000 ? And the peson ultimately responsible for a hospital ? £60,000 ? More ? And the person responsible for all a local authority's hospitals ? £100,000 ? More ? And the person at the top of the council organisation that the head of health, head of education, head of transport planning etc report to - £150,000 ? More ?

    And let's not forget that when Cameron leaves office he'll sell his autobiography, get on the lucrative dinner speaker's circuit and pick up a handful of well paid directorships and advisory postions at large city firms. Generally the head of a local council won't.

  • Comment number 90.

    I think that no public servant should be paid more than £100,000 per annum. Let us be quite candid about this. We in the private sector are paid far less than civil or public servants, just check on government web-sites like HMRC, and we shoulder far more responsibility and take higher employment risks. I have seen jod applicants with NVQ4 chasing jobs at £17k whereas HMRC pay £20k for filing clerks. So, let us redress the balance and trim public spending accordingly. As far as the choice between front line services and administrators are concerned, in this borough we had dog 5 dog wardens on patrol in our parks, supported by 2 admin staff. We now have just one warden, and you guessed it, still have 2 administrators. This is how all councils will play their game in an attempt to maintain hierarchy and scupper the financial recovery.

  • Comment number 91.

    Yes of course there should, why should they get any more pay than anyone else? There are people losing their jobs left right and centre and there are people struggling to pay for basic things like food and bills. We taxpayers pay their wages and I for one want restrictions
    ..and you think that they don't pay tax? I’d suggest they pay more tax in a year that the average worker pays in an entire lifetime. All this 'our money' nonsense is starting to get infuriating.
    I had a hard upbringing in a very poor northern ex-mining town. I left school at 16 with no qualifications (in 1991). Through sheer hard work and determination, and not a single penny claimed from government, I have made my own life thus far a success. I am by no means rich, but I do well for myself.
    My job is by no means glamorous, but is such that I pay around £3,000 per month in tax, which sickens me knowing the amount of benefits this country is saddled with.
    To suggest that £200k for a Chief Executive Officer is excessive is frankly ridiculous. I think that people need to stop blaming everyone else for their own shortcomings.
    Some are more fortunate than others, but you play the hand you’re dealt to the best of your ability rather than make excuses.
    Life is hard. Deal with it.

  • Comment number 92.

    Mr Pickles chooses to forget that it was a Conservative government that hiked up top Council pay in the first place. Back in the late eighties when compulsory competitive tendering became all the rage, Councils had to pretend to be businesses, and in order to do that they had to pay top dollar to attract outside people. Most of them didn't know anything about running council services - but that was the point.

    Since then, it's spiralled out of control, and I've worked in a local authority where people at the very top were paid crazy money to achieve very little, other than complete chaos, a reduction in service quality and bringing in expensive external consultants.

    So yes, top pay needs watching, but the government continues to set its sights on the wrong sector in my view. Local government is a soft target compared with the closed ranks of the banking and finance sector -which is where we really do need limits on pay.

  • Comment number 93.

    Some common sense is needed and pay needs to be examined. However if you look at the size of the budgets some of these councillors control it can be into the hundreds of millions, if not billions. Anyone in industry controlling that sort of money is going to be on high 6 figure salaries. There is some truth in the mantra 'pay peanuts, get monkeys' and underpaying people with control of that sort of budget is an invitation to corruption.... very easy to give a large building contract to someone in exchange for backhanders.

    Pickles idea however is a complete waste of time and is probably illegal anyway. I've worked for years on annual contracts and you can't slash the wages between renewals.

    Equally I wish the 'Prime Ministers Salary' would stop being used as some sort of benchmark. Add in the expense account, free house at no10, free use of chequers, gold plated PM's pension and guaranteed multi-million earning potential once out of office and the PM is paid FAR more than his upfront salary.

  • Comment number 94.

    if they need large salaries to get them from the private sector give them a large pay cut and see if they can all get back into the private sector there must be thousands of companies who want them WHERE ARE THEY
    nobody working for the government in any of its forms national or local should be paid more than the PM

  • Comment number 95.

    cameron promised before the election to cap all civil service pensions to the max of 50 k a year...this follows that anyone working in government over 50 k should have a 8 year non renewable contract after which time they cannot work for the state ever again.

    It is important to get new blood into the civil service and local government where wages bear no resemblance with open market recruitment.The conservatives must accelerate the redundancy programs in the DWP,child support agency,home office,whitehall and councils.The government needs dramatic restructuring to support growth in the UK.

  • Comment number 96.

    Of course it should be restricted as many councils are allowing house building, road building against public wishes plus many other stupid decisions. I also believe they get "perks" such as travel expenses as a council where I use to live voted on getting and of course got a much higher allowance on fuel. {this was in spite of public protest] These people are employed to serve the community but very many do not, I wonder how many vote for thousands of homes next to where they live or new roads, wind farms or traveller encampments for a start. None that I know of. The media seem to forget that the PM apart from his salary gets a house to live in at tax payers cost plus security, travel and so on. Instead of "head hunting" which wastes council tax money they should in fact take in what is wanted by the community not have their own self interest coming first.

  • Comment number 97.

    Yes, of course there should be restrictions on the pay of "top" council staff. These people are there to run (as they put it) local affairs, but these days they all seem to see themselves as mini-States, with their "cabinets" and "Directors of this, that and the other" and all the "Managers" and the rest.

    There should be a serious cull of Council-run activities, a corresponding reduction in the horrendous levels of Council Tax and a return to a culture where people are left to get on with their own lives.

    Council officials have far too much power and involve themselves in ever more aspects of our lives. This has to stop. When it does and they get back to emptying bins, fixing street lights, mending roads and providing basic services, there will be no need for all the office staff and the pyramid of management resulting from it. This in turn will reduce the self-importance of those at the top who believe they are worth enormous sums in remuneration packages. They aren't - they achieve nothing.

  • Comment number 98.

    #47 - no you're right, they're not technically public servants. They just get paid by us and take any profits for themselves.

  • Comment number 99.

    50. At 10:20am on 16 Feb 2011, Pragmale wrote:
    WHEN DO OUR POLITICIANS BECOME ACCOUNTABLE THROUGH RIGHT OF RECALL. Everybody is being held accountable except them. As usual those most accountable are the bottom of the pile working class.

    When you can work out a system for recalling them that isn't one disgruntled lunatic on HYS demanding them to be sacked. Have them deselected through the local party apparatus is probably the best bet.

    We have a political system where up to a dozen or more candidates can be on the ballot paper. Its extremely rare to find a single MP with more than 50% of the votes in his constituency so in almost every seat in the UK the majority of people don't particularly want the MP they have so any 'democratic' method of recall is impossible to run.

  • Comment number 100.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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