ESSEX County Council has more employees earning more than £100,000 a year than any other local authority in the east of England, it has been revealed.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance annual Town Hall Rich List reveals 45 county council employees, more than any council in the region, received six-figure salaries in the 2022-23 financial year.

The salaries of six county council employees, including the chief executive, Gavin Jones, were higher than the prime minister, whose salary in the same year was £164,951.

Mr Jones was the authority’s highest earner with a salary of £198,875 a year.

Gazette: County Hall in Chelmsford, home to Essex County CouncilCounty Hall in Chelmsford, home to Essex County Council

Expenses, benefits in kind, and pension contributions took his total remuneration for the year to £251,052, making him the second highest earning council worker in Essex, behind an executive director at Southend Council.

The average salary of the county council’s six executive directors, who are responsible for overseeing areas like adult social care, was almost £168,000.

READ MORE: Essex County Council to make £32 million of cuts to tackle 'financial pressures'

John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, which campaigns to reform taxes and public services, said: “The new financial year has seen council tax soar across the country, and taxpayers will notice that top brass pay has simultaneously surged.

“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.”

What does Essex County Council say?

A spokesman for the county council said: “Essex County Council is one of the largest local authorities in England and the largest in the east of England.

"Over the past ten years, we’ve continually improved the services people rely on, while at the same time keeping council tax in check.

"We have a track record of strong financial management, having saved hundreds of millions of pounds over the past decade by transforming council services.

“This is underlined by a number of our employees being sought to provide expert advice and guidance to other local authorities, some through formal commissioning arrangements. For this work, they receive no additional remuneration on top of their existing salary."

He added: “We need professionals of the highest calibre if we are going to continue in the way we have been. We have demonstrated a strong commitment to value for money alongside delivering on the ambitious goals we want to achieve for residents.

“If we are to attract the best people in the country to help us deal with the challenges faced by public services, we need to offer an appropriate level of salary and remain competitive in a marketplace where we compete with the private sector for the best talent.

“All the council’s salaries are subject to regular independent review and measured against the public and not-for-profit sector.

"We have also undertaken a review of our staffing costs and structure and, given our operating model and services provided in-house, our total employee expenses are less than those of other comparable local authorities.”

Colchester Council workers paid more than £100,000

The research has also revealed the highest-earning bosses at city, district, and borough councils.

With a salary of £131,294, Colchester Council’s chief executive, Pam Donnelly, was the city council’s highest-paid employee.

Gazette: Pam Donnelly, chief executive of Colchester CouncilPam Donnelly, chief executive of Colchester Council (Image: Newsquest)

Colchester Council also paid an executive director a salary of £104,268 and pension contributions of £19,811 in 2022-23.

An assistant director at Colchester Council was paid a salary of more than £91,000 and benefitted from an injection of more than £17,000 into their pension pot.

Colchester Council publishes the details of senior staff salaries online.

A spokesman explained: “We publish salary data based on salaries not including pension contributions.

“On this basis there are currently just three employees, including the chief executive, with a salary more than £100,000. No Colchester City Council employee earns above £150,000.”

Nearby Tendring Council paid a salary of £105,380 to its chief executive, Ian Davidson, and a total remuneration package of more than £108,000 to another corporate director.

Neither Ms Donnelly nor Mr Davidson received pension contributions from their respective councils, the Taxpayers’ Alliance’s research revealed.

Tendring Council said: “All staff are paid in accordance with national pay scales for local authorities and we regularly benchmark these rates to ensure we are in line with best practice across the country.

“All of our staff work extremely hard for Tendring taxpayers and offer real value for money in what they do and achieve for the district.

“The chief executive and corporate directors are no exception to this, and these roles also come with a lot of personal responsibility for the council as a whole.”