More than 2,000 council employees in England and Wales are earning at least £100,000 a year, while council tax has increased and services have been reduced, a study has found.
London had the greatest number of council employees earning more than £100,000, with 450. It was followed by the south-east, which had 368, according to the TaxPayers’ Alliance’s Town Hall Rich List.
The study identified at least 2,314 staff whose total pay packet exceeded six figures in 2015-16 – up 89 on the previous year – but the TaxPayers’ Alliance said was "likely to be an understatement" because of inconsistencies with the way councils present their data.
A total of 539 council employees also received packages worth more than £150,000 in 2015-16 – up 53 on the previous year.
John O'Connell, chief executive of the group, which campaigns for smaller government and lower taxes, said: "The average council tax bill has gone up by more than £900 over the last 20 years and spending has gone through the roof.
"Disappointingly, many local authorities are now responding to financial reality through further tax rises and reducing services rather than scaling back top pay.
"Despite many in the public sector facing a much-needed pay freeze to help bring the public finances under control, many town hall bosses are continuing to pocket huge remuneration packages, with the number of people on six-figure deals actually going up since last year.
"There are talented people in the public sector who are trying to deliver more for less, but the sheer scale of these packages raises serious questions about efficiency and priorities."
The annual study found 68 councils with at least 10 employees getting more than £100,000.
Responding to the report, Councillor Claire Kober, chairwoman of the Local Government Association's Resources Board, said: "Councils are large, complex organisations with sizeable budgets and responsibility for delivering more than 700 services, including caring for the elderly and vulnerable, and protecting children.
"It is important that the right people with the right skills and experience are retained to deliver this work.
"Nationally, incoming chief executives are being paid lower salaries than their predecessors and average chief executive salaries continue to decline year-on-year.
"The pay of senior council staff is set by politically proportionate committees of elected councillors and is open to a high level of scrutiny and democratic accountability as a result."
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government said: "Whilst it's a matter for individual local authorities, ministers have been clear that they expect them to show restraint from excessive pay rises, especially when it comes to senior staff.
"We've taken steps to make sure councils are more transparent on how they set pay and can be held accountable by local residents."
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