Luton council defends chief executive's £206k salary as 'Town Hall Rich List' published

Luton Town Hall. Picture: Tony MargiocchiLuton Town Hall. Picture: Tony Margiocchi
Luton Town Hall. Picture: Tony Margiocchi
Top council officers salaries have been published in the latest TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA) report

Luton council has defended the £206k salary of its chief executive – saying the sum reflects the ‘skill and experience’ needed for the role.

Bedfordshire’s top council officers’ salaries have been published in the latest TaxPayers’ Alliance (TPA) Town Hall Rich List.

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According to the data Luton council's chief executive Robin Porter nets a £206k salary plus £38k pension.

The prime minister had a salary entitlement of £164,951 in 2022-23.

The list reveals that the number of town hall bosses receiving more than £100,000 in 2022-23 stood at 3,106, the highest level since the 2015 edition of this list and the second highest on record.

It comes as core spending power for local authorities measured in real terms per person was revealed to have exceeded 2015-16 levels in the latest financial year. But with 59 councils failing to provide accounts, the real number could be as high as 3,637, which would be a record.

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The news comes as a £2.6m overspend was forecast against Luton Borough Council’s £156.8m revenue budget for 2023/24 at the end of December – a worse position than halfway through the financial year. Liberal Democrat Stopsley councillor David Wynn had described the budget report as “an appalling read”.

And this year the council agreed a 2.99 per cent increase in its share of the council tax bill plus an extra two per cent precept for adult social care – equating to a band D council tax precept of £1,567.91 and social care precept of £264.28.

Across the country, the number of council staff receiving over £150,000 hit a record high of 829, while for the first time, the number receiving over £200,000 has been specifically revealed, with 175 receiving this remuneration.

In a statement posted on TPA’s website (April 9), chief executive John O’Connell said: “The new financial year has seen council tax soar across the country, and taxpayers will notice that top brass pay has simultaneously surged.

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“Local authorities provide crucial services and residents will want to make sure they are getting bang for their buck with their ever-increasing bills.

Residents can use these figures to ask whether precious funds are really going towards frontline services, or whether town hall bosses can get better value for money,” he said.

A spokesperson for Luton Borough Council said: “We acknowledge that senior jobs pay very well, and each of our senior staff are aware of the responsibility that comes with their salaries, which are reported to our residents in an open and transparent way.

“Luton Council is a large, complex organisation with over 2,700 staff, more than 700 vital services being delivered to 225,000 residents, a £577 million budget and responsibility for £4.5 billion in commercial assets.

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“So, it is right that those in senior management positions, including the chief executive, have the leadership qualities, skills and experience to deliver these vital services which directly impact people’s lives across our communities in Luton.”