Public sector fat cats

A report published yesterday by the Taxpayers’ Alliance found that the 300 highest earners employed by the state took home £237,564 each on average – an increase of 12.8 per cent; 17 employees raked in more than £500,000.

The bloated salaries come at a time when Prime Minister Gordon Brown has insisted on a 2 per cent cap for rank-and-file public-sector workers. This is the second year the TPA have compiled the report using official documents and freedom of information requests. It’s a difficult task but one that is definitely worthwhile in holding these public officials to account.

rich list table

The aim of the report is to improve transparency and accountability of an increasingly bloated public sector. The key findings are:

  • There is 1 person in the public sector – Adam Crozier, Royal Mail Chief Executive – who earns more than £1 million a year.
  • There are 17 people in the public sector earning above £500,000 a year.
  • There are at least 66 people earning above £250,000 a year (recent media reports suggest that some GPs are in this category).
  • The 300 people had an average pay rise of 12.8 per cent between 2005-06 and 2006-07. This is three times average earnings growth (including bonuses) across the country, which fluctuates around 4 per cent and over six times the current 2 per cent government target for growth in pay for ordinary public sector workers.
  • The average total remuneration of the 300 people on the list is £237,564 per annum. This works out at over £4,500 a week. Although many people on the list are likely to work longer, based on a 35-hour week, this is equal to almost £130 an hour, or around £2.15 a minute.
  • The 10 most highly paid people in the public sector earn on average around 40 times the amount earned by someone starting out as a police officer, nurse or soldier.
  • There are 10 people involved in delivering the London 2012 Olympics on the list, including two in the top 10 highest remuneration packages overall. Their packages average £325,000 per annum.
  • The 82 most highly paid people in the NHS earn an average of £181,956 each. By comparison, the starting salary for a nurse is around £22,000.
  • Gordon Brown is only the 143rd highest paid person in the public sector.

Whether or not this largesse amounts to value for money is another argument but one that we cannot have until we first know these figures. And the figures are increasingly difficult to obtain. The main researcher Corin Taylor said that the government has stopped publishing a centralised report of UK quangos and Public Bodies so the only way to uncover the data is to trawl through individual reports.

He would like to see a system similar to the US where such transparency is fast becoming the norm.  The salaries of all state employees are available on the Iowa state legislature website for the public to view.  Missouri will follow suit in January 2008.  In Kentucky, Michigan, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont and West Virginia, databases of state employee salaries are also publicly available, hosted on local newspaper websites. 

Isn’t it time we had a similar centralised resource for Whitehall bureaucracy?

2 Responses to “Public sector fat cats”

  1. Disappointing, we are still not paying public servants enough money.

    Time after time I see the public sector hiring less skilled staff than the private sector, and hence losing out in contract negotiation with it. This particularly happens in planning negotiations in local Government. Only the most altruistic staff stay working for the public sector – the rest leave and work for planning companies on behalf of corporations.

    This stingy attitude to public sector pay is ripping us all off.

    You’re absolutely right thought that it is outrageous that all financial information relating to the Government isn’t freely available on a website. I’d fight for that.

  2. vaci says:

    Surely the easiest answer to the Government losing out in planning negotiations is to just get rid of (most of) the planning regulations? Then we’ll have a double win: the taxpayers won’t have to pay for the incompetent staff, and the property owners won’t have the the state interfering with their private property rights.

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