Saturday, 11 May 2013

How the TPA got its sums wrong about Camden senior pay

Debating on ITV Daybreak with TPA Chief Exec
On Friday, in its annual 'Rich List', the Tax Payers Alliance made assertions about senior pay in Camden which are inaccurate and wrong.  Much to the annoyance of the TPA, who seem to be totally intolerant of criticism, we have challenged the report on air.  

From a misreading of our accounts, it claims that Camden variously had 40, or even over 60, employees earning over £100,000 in 2011/12.  This would place Camden as the authority with the most officers earning this salary in the country.  

The TPA seem to have got to their figure(s) by double counting (e.g. saying we have two Chief Execs in one year, which we did but not at the same time!).  They read salary band table and individuals table as separate staff, when they aren't. Sums were also inflated by adding pension contributions to salary, in order to bump as many officials over the £100k threshold as possible.

The TPA's misunderstanding led to strange charts in its report, which should've triggered their researcher to clarify whether they'd got it right before publication.
Nameless bureaucrats stalk Town Hall or TPA double counting?

The actual figure is 16, substantially lower than other comparable local authorities - it was therefore untrue to say we lead the country in senior pay and we went on air to rebut this.  Here are the accounts.

On air the TPA also stated that salaries and council tax kept going up over the last decade, but performance didn't.  This allegation also misunderstands local government, which is now seen as the most efficient part of government.  

Since 2000 local authorities have had more and more powers and areas of responsibility - childcare, scrutiny, recycling and sustainability, community safety, regeneration and well-being and now public health.  There have also been major structural changes, e.g. in Children's Services and City Deals.  Larger budgets have followed these new responsibilities, and salaries have risen to reflect this.    

Despite facing inner city challenges, Camden is one of the top-rated authorities in the country.  

Where we do pay chief staff high salaries - for example in Children's services-  it is because they manage large budgets and many complex cases.  The Director of CSF deals with many hundreds of vulnerable children and families.  We get results: OFSTED rated our primary schools are the best in the country and childcare and early years second to none.  Our response to the London riots gained national awards.

But the TPA don't care about quality - for them it's impossible for councils to have 'the best' public servants.  

Every year councils like Camden have to correct the poor research carried out by the Tax Payers Alliance.  If they can get our figures so wrong one has to question the veracity of their entire analysis.

Camden is transparent in what it pays senior staff. We have published this information online since 2010, and argued for publication against opposition from the Tories and Lib Dems when not in power.  In Camden we have driven down the cost of senior officers - from 2010-2012 expenditure on chief officer pay reduced by 20%.  Our top to bottom pay ration is 10:1, compared to 262:1 in FTSE 100 company.

Our transparency is more than can be said for the TPA, who themselves are funded by secretive US-style free enterprise groups and pro-private sector outfits who have an axe to grind against the public sector.


  1. would you support a publication system like Ontario Canada has?

  2. "An axe to grind against the public sector". Sir, if the public sector representatives on a variety of councils and public bodies were not so cavalier with ratespayers and taxpayers money, nobody anywhere would have "an axe to grind against the public sector". One of the greatest scandals and tragedies of our time is how elected representatives have allocated public funds to high-earners in councils and local authorities. Many people, myself included, are deeply offended by this gross misuse of public funds. Camden is but one of many councils with a lot to answer for, irrespective of any distorted TPA findings.
    From: Gary Watton;

  3. Not allowing comments to appear until approved is frankly a tactic that belongs to a totalitarian state. I am amazed at how many brave bloggers let off steam about others and then cower behind the device "your comment will be visible after approval." Such courage!
    Gary Watton;