NEW figures have been published which reveal the number of people who are paid £50,000 or more at local councils.

Data released by the TaxPayers’ Alliance show that in 1996/1997 only 15 people earned £50,000 or more at North Yorkshire County Council. By 2006/2007 this had soared to 207 and just a year later the number had risen to 273 – a total wage bill for the high earners of £16,885,000.

This means that the cost to each person – of all ages – living within the authority’s boundaries is £28.35.

But the county council says the figures for the last two financial years include head teachers whose wages are set nationally, whereas for councils like York head teachers are excluded from the data.

The council says that, discounting teachers, it employed 62 senior managers in 2006/2007 who earned more than £50,000 and that rose to 79 for the last financial year.

A county council spokeswoman said: “The rise can be accounted for by cost-of-living pay rises; incremental increases and by termination pay-outs.”

She added the county council had a budget of more than £800 million and employed 23,000 staff.

She added: “All North Yorkshire County Council staff, except teachers, were subject to a rigorous job evaluation process in 2006, which was implemented in April 2007. This applied to all posts, including chief officers.

“As part of the process, senior managers’ salaries were benchmarked by an independent body against other authorities and their salary structures based on the median rate for comparative authorities.”

For comparison, in York eight people were earning £50,000 or more in 1996/1997, which had increased to 30 for both 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 – a wage bill of £1,980,000 or £10.24 per taxpayer.

In the East Riding the number of high earners jumped from ten 12 years ago to 47 in 2007/2008.

In Selby, the figure went from one to five, while in Ryedale no statistics were available for 1996/1997, although currently there are five people earning £50,000 or more.

In 1996, £1 would now be worth £1.40 – because of inflation – so £50,000 then is the equivalent of £70,000 now.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said some councils had recruited managers and handed out pay rises without justification.

He said: “In the private sector, thousands of people are losing their jobs, yet councils are better staffed and better paid than ever. Councils are ignoring economic reality and simply recruiting more managers and handing out more pay rises than taxpayers can afford.”