Room for Doubt

The Tax Payers Alliance (TPA) recently released figures showing the number of staff in each local authority in the UK that earned over £100,000 a year in 2014/15.

Apparently there is one employee in North Devon Council and another in Torridge who earn more than £100,000 a year, whilst Devon County Council has 24. A Devon County Council (DCC) spokesperson has said that the authority did not recognise the figures and that in 2014/15 Devon had only nine employees paid more than £100,000.

There would, therefore, seem to be a vast discrepancy between the figures released by the TPA and the real figures.

So are the TPA being economical with the truth?

Not exactly.

The TPA defined remuneration “as including, but not being limited to salary, fees, allowances, bonuses, benefits in kind, compensation for loss of office and employer pension contributions.”

The key to the difference lies in the fact that the TPA included employer pension contributions.

Once the employer pension contributions are included then the figures for the county council from the TPA do indeed stack up.

Or do they?

The TPA say they exclude school staff in their figures. If these staff are excluded, then, based on DCC’s figures, neither the TPA nor DCC are right!

Torridge District Council also dispute the TPA figures and have said that they don’t have anybody earning more than £100,000. Is that actually the case?

Figures from the Torridge website show that the highest paid employee had an annual salary of £82,247. So are the TPA telling porkies? Not according to their definition of remuneration.

In addition to their salary the highest paid officer also received an expense allowance of £5,351 (!), Benefits in Kind of £2,574 and Employer Pension Contributions of £15,462.

Add the four figures together and you get a grand total of £105,634. So , we conclude, the TPA were right (based on their methodology) and Torridge were wrong.

No, not quite.

The TPA were also wrong. Why? Because their methodology includes “compensation for loss of office”. Once that figure is included the number of employees paid over £100,000 in Torridge actually jumps from one, to the astounding number of five.

In 2014/2015 four senior officers were made redundant (at least I presume they were) and received compensation for loss of office which brought their total remuneration well above £100,000. The highest total figure being an incredible £274,181, including £195,540 compensation for loss of office.

The devil, as always, is in the detail.