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'Middle management' costs soar

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 February 2008 | UPDATED: 12:15 07 May 2010

Middle-managers are costing County Hall a staggering £18million a year, it has been revealed.

Norfolk County Council has today defended the wages paid to “middle managers” after a report revealed the number of people earning more than £50,000 has soared in a decade.

Middle-managers are costing County Hall a staggering £18million a year, it has been revealed.

Norfolk County Council has today defended the wages paid to “middle managers” after a report revealed the number of people earning more than £50,000 has soared in a decade.

According to figures from the Taxpayers' Alliance the number of people earning £50k or over at County Hall has risen from just 17 to more than 300 since 1998.

However, County Hall bosses said this was justified because it was a large county with a wide area to deliver services.

It means Norfolk falls into the top 25 local authorities for “high” management salaries, with 302 members of staff falling into this category and costing £18,750,000 a year.

But a spokesman said today: “We are the fifth largest county in England, meaning that we have a much wider area to deliver our services to than many other councils included in this survey.

“As a result of this, it is not surprising to see where we are ranked, but it is important to put into context that all of these employees are essential to us, and to the lives of Norfolk residents - whether they be people in charge of ensuring the delivery of social care, headteachers, or senior firefighters, to name but a few.

“These figures should also be seen in the context that we employ more than 26,000 people, with those earning upwards of £50,000 representing only just over 1pc of our workforce.”

The report reveals that the average local authority is employing over nine times as many people on £50,000-plus packages as ten years ago - 66 people in 2006/07 compared with 20 people in 2001/02 and seven people in 1996/97.

By contrast, in the economy as a whole, the number of people earning more than £50,000 has increased by less than three times over the past ten years.

Last year we revealed how the council's former chief executive Tim Byles earned £204,165 in 2006, the fifth highest earner in a rich list of councils across the UK.

Mr Byles was paid more than former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who earned £186,429. The list was based on responses from 230 councils and gives details of the 578 employees who were paid more than £100,000 in 2005 to 2006.

The number of employees whose pay packets topped the £100,000 mark shot up 35pc.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: “With council tax doubling in the past decade, it's extremely disappointing that town halls have chosen to hire a new class of middle managers, many of whom are being paid more than MPs.

“Local authorities should study these findings carefully to see where savings can be made, instead of using their half billion pound PR machine to obscure their finances from taxpayers.”

Other authorities which have spent highly on middle management include Birmingham, which has raked up a total cost of £50million, and Kent which spent £44million.

Norfolk was ranked 19th out of the top 25 local authorities for overspending. Other councils included in the survey include Norwich City Council, which spends £640,000 a year on middle management wages; South Norfolk, which spends £675,000 and Broadland which spends £565,000.

Have you used the Freedom of Information Act to uncover an interesting piece of information? Contact Sarah Hall on 01603 772426 or email sarah.hall2@archant.co.uk

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