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Town hall staff earning more than £58,200 to be named online

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By Lucy Phillips

7 February 2011

English councils will be forced to name all staff paid more than £58,200 a year in the latest drive by Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles to cut waste.

The proposal is included in a draft code on local government data transparency in England, published today for consultation. The pay level is equivalent to/based on the lowest salary for senior civil servants.

If local authorities do not comply with the voluntary code, Pickles will be able to introduce legislation to enforce it.

The move follows Pickles’ order for all councils to publish spending over £500 online before the end of January. Some 95% of councils have complied with the measure – aimed at highlighting where waste could be cut without hitting frontline services.

Today Pickles said: ‘The taxpayer has the right to look under the bonnet of their town hall and see what decisions are being made on their behalf and where their money is being spent.

‘I asked councils to put online everything they spend over £500 and I commend the majority have had the good sense to lead this transformation in transparency. Today I’m publishing a new code that will help decipher the town hall maze of middle management, bringing more public information to light. This will also give the few remaining refuseniks a clear game plan to follow.’   

Other items that will need to be published online according to the consultation include: grants and payments to the voluntary sector; councillor allowances and expenses; contracts to businesses and social enterprises; finance policies, performance, audits and key indicators; and democratic data such as election results.

The consultation ends on March 14.

Councils yet to publish their spending over £500 include Nottingham, Bradford, Peterborough, Epsom & Ewell, Hyndburn, Nuneaton & Bedworth, Eastbourne and Lincolnshire.

When will we have complete transparency with all central government spending over £500 being published and the names all employees earning over £58,200 appearing along side it? Lets add the NHS to list of salaries to be shown too, then there might be a little less worshipping of doctors and nurses especially maximum part time consultants!
This should be all public sector or nothing.
Why should my neighbours, friends and family know I earn just because I work in local government?

Pickles Victim (07/02/2011 18:55:10)

When do we go back to three councillors signing the cheques as they did at the beginning of my career? It would be much more economical just to do an extra print-out of the full payments schedule rather than selecting the £500 pluses.

Charles Kemp (08/02/2011 07:18:57)

Will this contravene Human Rights law?

Vernon Nosal (08/02/2011 08:37:23)

What a colossal cheek of Mr Pickles to ask for this!!

Such a disclosure of staff salaries must surely contravene basic citizen's privacy rights and should be resisted at all costs, even with a court challenge on a test case with all legal costs accruing to the Government, for the likely event they would fail to get away with such impudence.

Do we know how much Mr Pickles is earning? Perhaps he should first disclose this voluntarily together with any parliamentary perks he might still be getting

Ian Howe (08/02/2011 14:36:39)

Cabinet ministers receive an annual salary of £134,565.

Lucy Phillips (08/02/2011 14:53:26)

Reporting salaries! Canadian Provinces have been doing this for years for he whole of the public sector. Ontario shows all salaries over $100k - a good way to account back to the taxpayers who fund our salaries.

Stephen Willetts, University of Windsor, Ontario (08/02/2011 16:47:57)

I don't know about the confidentiality issues about this...although I'm sure there are many - & why doesn't this apply to the whole of the public sector? Good on Notts City Council re the £500 - LAs do have more important things to consider - if nothing else, shouldn't the level be higher? What is it costing to employ someone to upload the info...probably edit it first (for good reasons)...and then explain it to all and sundry.....or not. This may then lead onto a question about Armchair Auditors, other than a flurry of excitment, is the average person really interested?

Sally Albion (08/02/2011 18:39:12)

Plenty of loopholes to be found here, a penny off the limit and all is ok and splitting costs into £499.99 lumps would be possible in some cases. Finance managers will get quite clever at it, though doing nothing illegal.

Bill Rogers (09/02/2011 16:00:50)

The figure of £58K is too low, as lots of staff probably earn this level or more. More realistically a figure of £70K might be used, which would then focus on the most senior of officers.
One wonders where Eric Pickles has got his figure from- randomly, most like. How long has this minister got left?

Jim Edwards (09/02/2011 16:25:21)

I welcome Pickles asking for local government to share salaries over £58,200. The taxpayer, which we all are, likes to know where our money is going and I feel that no-one deserves a salary of more than our Prime Minister, who runs the country, so we need to be kept up-dated. As for confidentially you only need to Goggle for the job description which provides the annual salary.
I welcome Eric to ask for all salaries to be published and then it wouldn't look like a witch hunt.

Hilary Mellor (09/02/2011 17:54:51)

As others have indicated, if this proposal is necessary, then it should be applied across the public sector as a whole, including the civil service, health sector and former public utilities. It would be very interesting to compare online salary levels for local authorities, health authorities, civil servants, gas, electricity and water industry staff.

Michael Price (09/02/2011 18:28:20)

I cannot believe that people want to go to such lengths to avoid compliance with the regs. Just get over it and publish!

Michael Keene (09/02/2011 20:48:17)

Shouldn't consumers of goods and services bought from the private sector also have the transparency of knowing the people in that sector whose pay is over the published threshold ?
Price increases being borne by the public sector arise too from cost increases from high pay bills in the private sector.
When the government can properly manage the failures of the banking sector then it can justly seek restraining treatment of public servants.
Until then we know this government's policies are to destroy career options for talented people working, or wanting to work, in public services.

Mike Stirland (09/02/2011 21:18:07)