"9 of 10 top town hall earners employed by Tory councils"
Hilary Benn MP, Labour Party Website, 25 April 2012
Following the release of research by the Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) which examined top pay at UK councils, the Labour Party yesterday claimed that it is mainly Conservative-led councils who are footing the bill.
They specifically claimed that, of the 10 highest paid council officials in England, nine are employed by Conservative councils.
So can we sign this off?
The Town Hall Rich List was compiled through looking at each council's annual report from 2010-11, and provides several lists ranking individuals and councils on how much they were renumerated in 2010-11. Full Fact checked the majority control of the councils to analyse which party could be assigned as running the implicated councils.
First of all the TPA looked at the 20 council employees with the highest remuneration packages across the UK in 2010-11, including redundancy payments.
Seven out of the top 10 councils in this list were Conservative-run, however the top council in the list was Labour-run Glasgow. However since Hilary Benn refers only to 'England' in the press release, it is unlikely the party took this measure for their claim.
However, excluding redundancy packages would also be useful if we are to develop a picture of what the employees are paid on a more consistent basis. The TPA duly provide this analysis in their second table, which excludes redundancy packages.
19 of the top 20 paid employees in this list were Chief Executives, the other being Director of Children and Young People's Services. To take the top 10:
1. Hammersmith and Fulham - Conservative
2. Essex/Brentwood - Conservative (shared)
3. Kensington and Chelsea - Conservative
4. Suffolk - Conservative
5. Buckinghamshire - Conservative
6. Bexley - Conservative
7. Norfolk — Conservative
8. Surrey - Conservative
9. Gateshead - Labour
10. Barnet - Conservative
Whether or not the Essex and Brentwood Chief Executive is counted once or twice does not affect the fact that nine out of the top 10 council chiefs' pay are in Conservative-run councils.
However, it should be noted that six of the next 10 councils in the list are Labour-run, so out of the top 20 council executives' pay, seven are Labour-run and 13 are Conservative-run.
In addition, the Labour Party do not mention the TPA's measure of councils where more than 20 employees receive more than £100,000. On this list, four out of the top 10 councils are Labour-run. While it again shows a skew towards the Conservatives, it does show a less extreme picture.
The Labour Party are correct to state that nine of of the top 10 executives' pay in the Taxpayers' Alliance research are in Conservative-run councils. However taking the full list of 20 councils shows a less extreme picture with Labour showing as seven out of 20 councils.
The figures must, of course, be understood in context. Labour's claim takes only one measure in the report and does not consider redundancy payments (although there is good reason to exclude these) or even councils with more than 20 employees receiving more than £100,000.
So Labour's claim casts a positive light over a report in which the picture is somewhat more mixed than their claim implies.
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