NI council questions TaxPayers’ Alliance ‘top earners’ figures

Officials at Mid and East Antrim Council have challenged data produced by the TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) relating to the number of council employees earning salaries in excess of £100,000.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 7:03 pm

According to TPA report published on Wednesday, eight senior staff members at the council have a pay and pension package worth at least £100,000 per year.

However, Mid and East Antrim (MEA) Council has said the information used by the TPA did not come directly from the council and is “incorrect”.

Having collated data from every local council across the UK, the TPA report showed that the top earning council employee in Northern Ireland is Belfast City Council chief executive Suzanne Wylie with a package worth £170.288, followed by Ards and North Down chief executive Stephen Reid on £151,000.

The TPA also reported that the number of council staff in Northern Ireland earning £100k or more had jumped from 26 in 2018/2019 to 47 last year.

However, an MEA Council spokesperson said: “Today’s media reports suggest that, in 2019/20, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council had eight officers earning a package (including employer pension contributions) greater than £100,000 – this information is incorrect.

“This actually included two exit packages for officers leaving Council and one officer who received a back pay to 2007 under single status, which were all one-off payments.”

“It is unclear if exit packages or single status payments were included in other councils’ data. In the year 2019/2020, five – not eight – Mid and East Antrim Borough Council officers earned greater than £100,000 from basic salary (including employers pension contributions) – the chief executive and the four directors.”

Across the UK, at least 2,802 people employed by local authorities in 2019/20 received more than £100,000 in total remuneration.

Launching the latest findings, the Taxpayers’ Alliance said six in ten people believe councils should freeze or cut top salaries to help keep bills down.

Chief executive John O’Connell said: “Taxpayers... want to know they are getting value for money from their local authority leadership”.