UK councils to reveal pay and perks

By Staff Writer

UK council chief executives may be required to reveal their salaries, bonuses and pension agreements to the public under new laws.

According to newspaper reports in The Independent the Government is looking to clamp down on council excesses.

Chief executives and local government’s top earners may also be required to disclose financial perks they receive under the new rules, such as private cars, chauffeurs and accommodation.

They will also be obliged to reveal the size of any pay-offs they receive upon leaving their posts.

The crackdown comes following allegations, similarly levelled at Australian local governments, that CEOs are earning too much, with some taking home more salary that their respective Prime Ministers.

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) was forced to defend CEO salaries in Queensland after the Courier Mail newspaper revealed that Brisbane City Council chief executive Jude Munro received a $70,000 pay rise, taking her salary to $410,000 and reports that Sunshine Coast Council chief executive John Knaggs earned more money than the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) president, Cr Paul Bell defended the salaries of local government chief executive officers.

“Local government today is a billion dollar industry. Councils need to employ quality CEOs to ensure the resources and assets of councils are managed efficiently and utilised effectively in the interest of the community,” he said.

In the UK Stoke-on-Trent City Council announced last month that it was offering its next chief executive a salary of £195,000 (A$437,300), about £10,000 (A$22,400) more than Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s salary.

“We’ve seen top council salaries spiralling recently,” John Healey, the Local Government minister told The Independent. “We’ve seen some councils change top managers like premiership football clubs, sometimes with big pay-offs for failure. The level of disclosure we require for councils is well short of that which we require for top civil servants and I think the public need to know the full picture.”

Research by the National Audit Office recently found that council chief executive pay had risen by more than a third in the past four years.

“These are big organisations that need the best calibre people,” Healey added, “but they have to be ready to defend what they do and answer to the voters for the decisions they make.”  

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