Wales

Council chiefs in Wales 'get right pay for their work'

David Cameron
Image caption David Cameron has questioned pay levels in top public sector jobs.

Chief executives of councils in Wales are paid the right amount for the work they do, according to the body representing local government leaders.

New figures show the heads of local authorities in Wales and England are paid an average of almost £148,000.

Four councils - Cardiff, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire and the Vale of Glamorgan - paid more.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said the salary was appropriate for the job's responsibility.

The survey by pay analyst Incomes Data Services (IDS) obtained figures from 312 of the 400 councils in England and Wales.

They showed that 134 chief executives earn more than £150,000, 15 earn more than £200,000, and the highest paid received almost £300,000 last year.

This means they earn a higher wage than Prime Minister David Cameron, who has previously questioned pay levels in top jobs.

Mr Cameron took a 5% pay cut when he took office and now earns £142,500.

Steve Thomas, chief executive of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) said: "These are big salaries, but they are big jobs.

"I think people appreciate that the chief executive's job is very difficult and it takes many years to get to that position.

"There has got to be a relativity to the functions people perform."

He compared the combined operating budget of Wales' 22 local authorities to that of BBC Wales and said the salaries paid to council chief executives amounted to "value for money".

Mr Thomas said that staff at all levels in Welsh authorities had been subject to a pay freeze for the last three years.

'Objective measurement'

He added: "Re-organisation is going on, but it is happening in functions rather than structures particularly in the larger services."

Dominic MacAskill, head of local government for Unison in Wales, said there needed to be an objective measurement to assess the value of chief executives' pay and how it related to what lower level council employees who delivered services were earning.

"They are responsible jobs but I don't think you can measure pay by the number of you employ.

"The staff they employ are subject to single status assessments so they assess the role of the job and you get a respective value but the chief executives are not subject to that measurement.

"You can't have two values - one for chief executives and one for the staff they employ."

He added that two thirds of Unison employees were on £17,000 a year or less.

Last year Will Hutton, executive vice chair of the Work Foundation, conducted an independent review into public sector pay.

He concluded that top public servants should normally be paid no more than 20 times that of their lowest paid employees.

He found that in the past decade their pay had risen faster than that of their average and low earning staff, just as it had in the private sector.

As a result the average pay of a chief executive of a FTSE company is now 88 times that of their lowest paid staff.

Business leaders in Wales have also been calling for a reduction in the number of councils from 22 to seven.

CBI Wales said it was a way of getting public services to deliver more for less and has also proposed a two year public sector pay freeze in its "manifesto" for parties ahead of May's assembly election.

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