Leeds council had 18 staff earning more than £100k last year

Leeds City Council had 18 members of staff earning more than £100,000 during the 2018/19 financial year, according to figures released by a right-wing campaign group.

Friday, 17th April 2020, 12:39 pm
Updated Friday, 17th April 2020, 12:40 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.

Among the revelations, the document appeared to show an unnamed member of staff at the council earned £217,500 last year – £35,415-a-year more than the council’s chief executive (£182,085).

However, the authority claimed this was in fact the annual pay plus a redundancy payment for someone who worked for a number of years in a role below director-level.

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Eighteen members of staff at Leeds City Council earn more than 100,000 a year.

It added that the individual left the council ‘after many years’ as part of ongoing efforts to reduce the numbers of senior staff.

According to the think tank’s data, Leeds has the highest number of high-earning officers of any unitary council in Yorkshire and the Humber, although Leeds is by far the biggest unitary authority in the region.

The council employs 12,666 full-time equivalent staff, and has an annual payroll of £423.9m.

No elected councillors appear on the list.

Birmingham’s former chief operating officer for strategic services, Angela Probert, was the highest paid council officer in England who received £398,396 last year.

Essex County Council has the highest number of individuals earning more than £100,000 with 35, although this is one of the biggest council areas in the country, covering 12 districts.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The Coronavirus crisis means that frontline council services are more crucial than ever, but at the same time household budgets face an enormous squeeze from crushing council tax rises.

“There are plenty of talented people in local authorities who are focused on delivering more for less, but that is needed across the board. The country needs every council to cut out waste and prioritise key services without resorting to punishing tax hikes on their residents.

“These figures should shine a light on the town hall bosses who’ve got it right, but also allow taxpayers to hold to account those who aren’t delivering value for money at this critical time.”

A forthright response from Leeds City Council pointed out no member of doesn’t appear in the top 20 of highest earners, adding it was ‘ridiculous’ to suggest the authority was over-paying any of its staff.

A Leeds City Council spokeswoman said: “Despite being the second-largest council in the country, Leeds doesn’t even feature in the Taxpayers Alliance top 20 of highest earners.

“In fact Leeds City Council appears nowhere in the survey’s six detailed categories of those paid most, other than for being the biggest authority in the Yorkshire and Humber region. It’s ridiculous to suggest that this disproportionately low ranking, despite the size of population the council provides services to, reflects anything other than an intense focus on delivering the best possible services for the best possible value to Leeds.

“Our non-existent appearance in these detailed tables reflects our consistent efforts over the years to reduce senior staff numbers and our committed and continued investment in keeping frontline services for the most vulnerable protected as austerity continued.”

The authority argued the survey had become ‘increasingly irrelevant’ over time, and that the authority had been working ’round the clock’ to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The spokeswoman added: “Now as we continue to battle this pandemic we’re pulling together as a city with all our partners across the public, private and third sectors – whether that be someone who needs urgent food supplies or a business needing help in applying for grant support – to get Leeds through this in the best way we can for everyone here.

“And we’re pushing hard at a national level to ensure government understands the pressures and takes into account what they need to do to help us protect all our people and communities.”

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

The organisation has been heavily criticised in recent years, with questions raised over transparency and how the organisation is funded.

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