Council chiefs rubbish £100,000 salary claims

Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson
Sunderland City Council leader Paul Watson
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CLAIMS that nine employees at Sunderland City Council earn more than £100,000 a year have been rubbished by city bosses.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance has released its sixth “Town Hall Rich List”, in which it claims to list the highest salaries of local government workers.

The report says that Sunderland chief executive Dave Smith takes home the biggest pay cheque in the council, receiving just under £230,000 a year.

And it also claims that the chief executive of Durham County Council, George Garlick, has received a pay rise, taking home just under £244,000 last year.

But council bosses have refuted the accusations and Sunderland says that Mr Smith earns £175,000. Durham Council says its chief executive’s salary has remained at £200,000 since 2008.

Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, said: “These figures are inaccurate, out of date and offer no context as several of these positions no longer exist.

“Sunderland City Council is responsible for managing a budget of more than £700million and delivering over 700 services to more than 280,000 residents.

“In its 2011 Audit Letter, the Audit Commission noted ‘that the council has proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in its use of resources’ and ‘value for money’.

“When compared with some other parts of the private and public sectors, local authorities, on the whole, continue to offer value for money.”

Don McLure, corporate director for resources at Durham County Council, said: “The senior management posts within the new unitary council were individually assessed in 2008, prior to the creation of the new council, by specialist, independent consultants to ensure that the levels of pay were equal to the responsibilities involved.

“The chief executive’s salary is £200,000 and this has not changed since the appointment was made in 2008.”

The report by the right wing campaign group claims that nationally 52 staff received more than £250,000, 658 received between £150,000 to £250,000 and 1,146 received between £90,000 to £100,000.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will be astonished that so many council employees are still getting such a generous deal while everyone else in the public sector is facing a pay freeze.

“As millions of voters across the country prepare for local council elections, it is vital that they can make an informed choice about which local authorities are delivering value for money.

“But this shows that while councils insist cuts can only mean pressure on frontline services, some clearly have cash in the bank when it comes to paying their own senior staff.

“These council executives must ensure they have the moral authority to lead necessary spending cuts, in many cases that will mean taking a pay cut themselves.”

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