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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Cumbria council hits back at Taxpayers' Alliance pay report

There has been a significant increase in the number of staff paid over £50,000 at Cumbria County Council, says the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

Figures from 2011-2012, show that the council had 31 staff on remuneration packages in excess of £50,000. This puts them in the top 10 table along with Scottish Borders Council, which had 13 staff on packages in excess of £50,000.

The Alliance says nationally there are 28,754 local authority staff paid over £50,000 a year, which costs taxpayers £1.9 billion in 2011-12.

The cost of paying these staff is the equivalent of 7.5 per cent of council tax receipts. This bill is down 12.5 per cent from last year but 118 councils increased the amount spent on staff earning more than £50,000 – some by millions of pounds.

The north west was the region with the biggest reduction in the number of staff earning £50,000 or more – a fall of 922.

Reacting to the report, Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the Tax Payers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers are still paying far too much for bloated bureaucracies that have been established in too many town halls over the last decade.

“It is incredible that some councils have even increased spending on high earning staff this year after a decade in which council tax doubled across the country and when every local authority needs to find savings and ease the burden.”

Jamie Sims, Cumbria council's assistant director for people management, said it was right that at a time of funding cuts, the pay of senior managers was closely looked at.

Out of 8,500 council employees, fewer than two per cent earn more than £50,000 and the council's average salary is £22,000k, £3,000 lower than the private sector, he claimed.

Mr Sims said the increase - from 129 to 160 - in the number earning £50,000 was due to one-off costs associated with redundancies. When these are removed, the number falls to 105.

The decrease, he added, took place at the same time as the council brought 800 staff, including managers on higher salaries, back in-house from previously contracted out services.

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