Saturday, March 29, 2008

Town Hall Rich List 2

The Bloke on last year's Rich List

The Taxpayers' Alliance has just published its annual Town Hall Rich List. Since last year's (blogged here) the number of officials being paid over £100 grand a year has increased by more than 25% to 800+. Top of the pile is Northamptonshire County Council Chief Executive Peter Gould, who got £215,000.

As we said last year, there's no objection to people earning a lot of money, and it's true that if you pay peanuts you will get monkeys.

But the problem with public officials is there's no comprehensive market test. And unlike the situation with state school headteachers, there's no shortage of qualified applicants for these well paid jobs. So the pay could well be too high.

Comparisons with senior executives in the market sector are misleading. There, the big money is a reward for successful risk taking. True, it's not foolproof (as the investment banks highlight), but failure is obvious in the bottom line, and has consequences for those involved: at the limit, companies go bust (unless of course, they're bailed out by wibbling governments and central banks).

Democratic control? As we said last year, with local authorities little more than an arm of central government, there is no democratic control. We're still waiting for that fiscal decentralisation, even if Mr Pickles is making the right noises.

PS Can anyone think of a single town hall chief who's ever moved to a comparable job in the market sector? Jobs heading quangos or charities clearly don't count.

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