pay1Councils have been told by the local government minister Brandon Lewis to “get a grip” on how much they pay senior staff after it was reported that 28,754 of workers are getting £50,000 a year or more.

This has led some to accuse councils of being more interested in lining the pockets of senior managers than delivering essential public services, many of which are being cut with local authorities saying they have removed all possible waste and the only way to make savings now was to take services away from vulnerable residents.

However, figures show that last year 3,991 more local government staff were on at least £50,000 and the £1.9bn total cost of the pay bill had in fact gone down by £270m.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said the fall – which equates to 12.5 per cent – could only be good news for council tax payers. But the Taxpayers’ Alliance insisted that the reduction was due to the high number of redundancy payments that councils paid out in the previous year (something the LGA denies).

“For too long the senior local government pay bill has spiralled up and up, and taxpayers have been left footing the bill,” Lewis said. “While I commend those councils taking action, there are still many others failing to get a grip on costs. This report exposes the fact that town halls still have massive scope to make sensible savings to protect important front-line services and freeze council tax.”

But an LGA spokesperson said: “Councils provide more than 700 local services [and] we need good managers to make sure those jobs are done well. Middle and senior managers make up around 1 per cent of the total local government workforce, which compares favourably with practices elsewhere in the public and private sectors.”