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Thursday 17 March 2011

TPA – The List That’s A Bit Rich

As the end of the financial year approaches, the array of non-job holders at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) have published their annual attempt to promote hatred and envy towards those unfortunate enough to work in local Government: their “Town Hall Rich List” has been released and lapped up by media outlets that share the TPA’s mean spirited attitude towards public service.

And a look through this “report”, with its characteristically interminable lists of figures which most journalists will not bother reading, shows that the TPA is, as usual, indulging in acts of serial dishonesty in pursuit of demonising the public sector. To see the customary sleight of hand at work, you need to look no further than the very first table in the report (available HERE [.pdf]).

The title, The 20 Council employees in receipt of the highest remuneration packages in 2009-10, is at least correct, but the apparently high percentage increases in that remuneration are mainly because these are mostly senior managers taking early retirement or being made redundant – that means a reduction in headcount, which the TPA favours. So they are playing it both ways.

Elsewhere, those joining part way through a year appear to have been getting substantial pay increases in 2009-10, until the small print is examined: the part year payment was not annualised, enabling the TPA to claim that percentage increases are far higher than the otherwise prosaic reality of low single figures. And in Table 2, not only is the redundancy angle noted, but the TPA’s prize fat cat is shown to be the Chief Executive of Tory flagship council Wandsworth. So they won’t be getting much change out of the Government on that one.

Also, as I noted recently, the TPA are clueless when it comes to freelance workers and interim management. The payment of £278,750 for an “Interim Chief Executive” at Thurrock is conceded to be the amount paid to the agency that supplied the manager, and that “this may not be what the individual receives”. There’s understatement for you: that manager will be lucky to see much over £200k, and will have to find employer’s NI, pension costs, professional indemnity payments, and accountant’s fees themselves. More like 130 – 140k.

Moreover, if we’re talking total remuneration package, the comparison that the TPA likes to make with the Prime Minister’s pay of £142,500 would have to take into account all of Young Dave’s allowances, including that house just off Whitehall. This would raise his full remuneration package to well north of £500k.

So if the TPA are going to do the exercise properly, let’s make the comparison like with like. And to bring real credibility to this work, let’s see the TPA publish full details of their own remuneration packages. In full. On line.

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