Published: 10:19, 16 April 2020
| Updated: 12:09, 16 April 2020
Thirty-two Kent County Council (KCC) employees have received pay in excess of £100,000.
The top earner at the authority, David Cockburn, the corporate director of strategic and corporate services, received a package of more than a quarter million pounds last year.
This came from a salary of £201,587, a pension contribution of £43,880 and another £7,363 listed as 'other', for a total package of £252, 830.
His large pay packet has been revealed in the 13th annual Town Hall Rich List, put together by the TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) for the year 2018-2019.
It lists all employees in the UK at authorities in receipt of more than £100,000 in total remuneration.
In total, two staff members at KCC recieved pay deals above the £200,000 mark, which also includes Matt Dunkley CBE, the corporate director of children, young people and education.
He took home a £190,000 salary plus received a £39,900 pension contribution.
According to the TPA, Kent is the 8th highest paying local authority in the UK, with a total of 32 people receiving remuneration of more than £100,000.
Essex council was the highest, with 35 employees receiving more than the hefty sum.
But KCC has hit back, pointing out that it is one of Kent's largest employers and spends more than £2.3 billion each year to improve the county and life for its residents.
After KCC, Dover District Council (DDC) gave out the largest pay deal to one of its staff.
This was to its chief executive who received a total of £191,000 - which came from a salary of £123,000, £3,000 for expenses, a pension contribution of £54,000 and £11,000 for 'other' payments.
In total, DDC had three members of staff receiving more than £100,000.
Medway Council's chief executive received total remuneration of £187,385, while several other staff members, including its director of children and adult services and the director of public health, received pay deals of more than £100,000.
Canterbury City Council (CCC) paid four employees a package of more than £100,000, including its top earner - its chief executive - who had a £117,000 salary plus a contribution of £16,000 to their pension.
At Ashford Borough Counci, its highest paid colleague, its chief executive, is listed as taking home a £120,000 salary, plus receiving a £17,000 pension contribution.
Within Folkestone and Hythe District Council four employees received total remuneration of more than £100,000, with its head of paid services receiving a total pay deal of £125,479.
'It is incredibly disappointing that the TaxPayers' Alliance send out an ill-judged and ill-timed press release about council salaries just as local authorities have galvanised to help beat the pandemic...'
The chief executive at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council received total remuneration of £151,886, while the same position at Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council received a pay deal of £139,000.
At Gravesham Borough Council, four colleagues received in excess of £100,000, with its chief executive receiving the most with a total salary of £131,000.
The person in charge at Maidstone Borough Council has a salary of £127,000, pension contribution of £19,000 and £9,000 listed as 'other', for a total pay deal of £155,000.
The chief executives of Swale Borough Council and Thanet District Council each received total remuneration of £186,000 and £146,392 respectively.
Sevenoaks District Council's top earner received a total of £179,973, which included pension contribution of £24,461, according to the TPA.
Dartford Borough Council is the authority in Kent which is paying the least members of staff in excess of £100,000, with only two receiving such high sums.
Its highest paid member of staff is its strategic director who received a total remuneration £123,416, the TPA states.
The Town Hall Rich List has been unveiled at a time when residents of every council in the UK face increased council tax this month.
According to the pressure group, for the average (band D) property, taxpayers in England will have to pay a council tax rise of 3.9 per cent or an extra £68 per year in 2020-21.
At the same time, from the 2018-2019 financial year, there were at least 2,667 council employees across the UK who received total remuneration in excess of £100,000.
That's 226 more than in 2017-18, and the highest number since 2013-14.
John O'Connell, chief executive of the TPA said: "The coronavirus crisis means that frontline council services are more crucial than ever, but at the same time household budgets face an enormous squeeze from crushing council tax rises.
"There are plenty of talented people in local authorities who are focused on delivering more for less, but that is needed across the board.
"The country needs every council to cut out waste and prioritise key services without resorting to punishing tax hikes on their residents.
"These figures should shine a light on the town hall bosses who’ve got it right, but also allow taxpayers to hold to account those who aren’t delivering value for money at this critical time."
But some Kent councils have hit back at the TPA's 'ill-timed' release, calling it a 'low blow'.
A spokesman for Canterbury City Council said: "It is incredibly disappointing but not surprising that the TaxPayers' Alliance should send out an ill-judged and ill-timed press release about council salaries just as local authorities have galvanised to help beat the pandemic and are playing a vital role. What a low blow.
"Just as everyone in the council is focused on delivering the critical frontline services that our residents depend upon like collecting bins and helping the homeless off of our streets, and creating new ones like the community hub delivering food and medicine to the most vulnerable in our society, the TPA decides to go on the attack.
"We have nothing to fear from transparency, we published this information ourselves in July 2019, but the TPA's press release could easily have waited until the lockdown was eased and the crisis was coming to an end."
"As we find every year when this story comes around, maths and analysing data is not the TPA's strong point.
"Not unsurprisingly there is some duplication. They also conflate salaries with redundancy payments which were made as a result of cost cutting measures."
A Kent County Council spokesman added: "Every year the Taxpayers’ Alliance releases the same league tables and all of our directors’ salaries and allowances are available on our website.
"The figures in the latest league table are from last year and some of those employees included no longer work for KCC.
"KCC is the largest county council in the country and also one of Kent's largest employers, so it’s not a surprise that we feature high up in these league tables.
"We provide a huge range of essential services to the people of Kent, with a gross spend of more than £2.3 billion each year to improve the quality of life for our residents.
"To remain one of the best-performing public agencies in the country we must retain and attract the very best people to continue delivering the most effective and efficient public services.
"It is these people that are leading the tireless work during the covid-19 pandemic, delivering essential services to those most in need of our help."