Under new government guidelines announced today, Council staff who earn more than £58,000 will have their salaries made public.

The plans, expected to affect 15,000 town hall employees, will be part of a “draft code of recommended practice for local government data transparency”, set to be published by the Department for Communities and Local Government later.

Although the code is to be introduced on a voluntary basis, it is expected that all councils will eventually be obliged to comply.

At present, civil servants with salaries of more than £150,000 are identified, and councils have been asked to publish items of expenditure exceeding £500 online.

As councils face finding large budget savings, local government secretary Eric Pickles is said to be keen that they focus on “middle management waste” before cutting front-line services.

Figures show that council spending on middle managers has surpassed £2.4 billion – a rise of more than 20 per cent in the last three years.

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

“I asked all councils to put online everything they spend over £500 and the majority have had the good sense to do so. Today I’m publishing a new code that will take councils to the next level, bringing middle management into the daylight and giving those not ready to open up a clear game plan to follow.”

“Transparency must be the underlying principal behind everything councils do,” he continued. “Every aspect of council business should be open to public scrutiny including top money, middle management, councillor expenses, audit results, voluntary sector funding – it can help save money in tough times, protecting front-line services, by cutting waste and unnecessary costs.”