18 Leeds City Council staff earned more than £100k last year, according to think tank

Leeds City Council had 18 members of staff earning more than £100,000 during the 2019/20 financial year, according to figures released by a campaign group.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 3:17 pm

The Taxpayers’ Alliance released its annual Town Hall Rich List report, which details the salaries of all top earners employed by councils across the country.

The data provided shows that the highest paid member of staff, chief executive Tom Riordan, earned £183,924 during that financial year. A further three employees earned in excess of £150,000.

The council stated that these salaries made up less than 0.1 percent of the authority’s workforce, and that “some senior leaders” chose not to accept a pay rise.

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Leeds City Council's headquarters at Civic Hall.

It also claimed its chief executive’s salary had been cut in the past few years, and that the savings had been passed on to council services and “good causes”.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance says that, nationally, at least 2,802 people employed by local authorities in 2019-20 received more than £100,000 in total remuneration, an increase of 135 on 2018-19.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers facing huge and hated council tax rises want to know they are getting value for money from their local authority leadership.

“At the onset of the coronavirus crisis, thousands of town hall officials were taking home huge sums. While councils were plunged into tackling the pandemic, many staff will have more than earned their keep, but households have nevertheless struggled with enormous and unpopular council tax rises.

“These figures shine a light on the town hall bosses who’ve got it right, and will enable residents to hold those who aren’t delivering value for money to account.”

According to the group, the highest remunerated council employee in 2019-20 was the deputy chief executive at Coventry council, receiving £573,660 in total remuneration. This included a loss of office payment of £395,110, a pension payment of £26,559, and salary of £151,991.

It also claimed the local authority with the greatest number of employees whose remuneration was in excess of £100,000 was Essex county council with 40 employees, five more than the previous year.

Leeds City Council directly employs 12,074 full time equivalent staff, not including those working in schools. The entire payroll for the organisation is £431.7m.

No elected Leeds city councillors were included in the list.

A statement from the council said: “The salaries paid to our chief officers are consistent with the duties they are required to undertake and the responsibilities they have – Leeds is the country’s second biggest unitary council and remains open and transparent about its salary levels.

“Like all local authorities, Leeds City Council has faced unprecedented challenges due to coronavirus and the council’s senior management team, including the chief executive and directors, have played an important role in coordinating the city’s response.

“This includes ensuring that critical services provided by the council, such as those supporting children and older people, have been able to continue and provide support to communities across the city throughout the pandemic.”

It added that the chief executive made a voluntary pay cut “over the last few years”, which has been put into additional savings for the council and “local good causes”.

The statement continued: “The current ratio between the minimum hourly rate and the chief executive’s voluntary reduced salary is just over 10:1, down from 15:1 in the last decade.

“The number of staff earning over £100,000 has fallen from 22 to 19 over the past 12 months and represents 0.1 per cent of the workforce.

“Along with most other public sector bodies, Leeds City Council did not furlough its staff. Some senior leaders have chosen not to accept any of the collectively agreed national pay deals during 2020. “

The Taxpayers’ Alliance was set up in 2004, and advocates policies such as cuts to public services and a smaller state.

A report in the Guardian in 2018 claimed the organisation had received $286,000 from US-based donors over five years.