I noticed on Friday that the Gazette had picked up the previous week’s “research” paper from the TaxPayers’ Alliance that looks at people earning more than £50K in local government.
Would it be too much for the Gazette to do a bit of elementary fact checking before they just swallow the TPA’s press release wholesale? 154 of these “fat cats” are in the Borough’s schools. Now some people might say that paying £50K-plus to 154 heads, deputy heads and other senior staff in our 65 primary schools, 12 secondary schools and 6 special schools is a misallocation of resources. Please do say if you think so.
Now we have reduced the number of council fat cats from 326 to 172 perhaps we can heave a sigh of relief? If we take the TPA’s figures at face value, which would be a mistake, Ealing is ranked 21 out of 33 London authorities (ie 21st lowest) in terms of spending on highly paid staff per head of population. So we are probably not horribly out of order.
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the TaxPayers’ Alliance. I was involved with them in their very early days. I helped them with their initial fund raising and organising but I got disillusioned because their first publication, The Bumper Book of Government Waste, mixed up capital and revenue and different years and wasn’t really a serious analysis of waste – at least not one that was any use to anyone.
The headline of their press release was:
COUNCIL SPENDING UNCOVERED: COUNCILS EMPLOY 22% MORE MIDDLE MANAGERS THAN LAST YEAR
This is utter nonsense. They make no effort whatsoever to put any of this in any context or to compare like for like. I had a look at their figures for London boroughs. They had the Brent population figure wrong (71,600 instead of 270,000). They haven’t tried to work out whether or not teachers are included. Most boroughs include them and are roughly comparable. At least six don’t include them so look better than they otherwise would – Ealing is probably better than 21st. The City of London is an exception as it has a tiny population but loads of businesses to deal with.
The TPA could be really useful if they upped their game somewhat. Much of what they do though is to pull out facts and figures from published sources without understanding them. Ealing’s own figures for people paid over £50K are published on page 23 of our Statement of Accounts and anyone can pull them off our website here. All public bodies publish these tables. At least when I do this stuff to my friends at Transport for London I explain my workings!