Scrutiny for top job pay

Wigan Town Hall

Wigan Town Hall

Council bosses have justified high salaries for top local authority officers amid criticism town halls are not offering value for money.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) has collated a list of every council official across the country to earn in excess of £100k with the number of high-earners said to be on the rise.

However, their report reveals Wigan is bucking the trend and has reduced its number of employees earning big wages.

And the Local Government Association has defended officers’ rate of pay as salaries are open to a “high level of scrutiny”.

The TPA report states Wigan Council’s number had reduced from 11 to 10 for 2015/16 and a spokesman told the Wigan Post the number has fallen further to seven this year.

Sonia Halliwell, assistant director for human resources, said: “The number of posts has continued to decrease and the salaries for these posts have remained the same now for several years.

“Wigan Council is the second largest council in Greater Manchester and takes responsibility for hundreds of services which run every day for 320,000 residents. Overall our level of pay is in the bottom quarter of GM councils despite our size.”

Topping the list for Wigan is town hall chief executive Donna Hall and deputy Paul McKevitt who received remuneration of £196k and £161k respectively in 2015/16, including pension contributions, according to the TPA report.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TPA, said: “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 raise serious questions about efficiency and priorities.”

Coun Claire Kober, chair of the Local Government Association’s Resources Board, said high wages are justified for local authorities to attract those best-suited for high profile roles.

She added: “Councils are large, complex organisations with sizeable budgets and responsibility for delivering more than 700 services. It is important that the right people with the right skills and experience are retained to deliver this work.”

Ms Halliwell said: “As part of our determination to provide value for money we continuously review our management structure, looking to combine roles and find opportunities to share posts. Over recent years there has been a reduction in director and senior manager numbers.”