More than 300 senior public officials paid more than David Cameron

Money

More than 300 senior officials from publicly funded bodies are paid more than the prime minister, newly released government documents show.

The total is the highest in five years – despite a promise by David Cameron to cut the cost of politics.

Of the 319 officials who take home more than £150,000 – more than the PM’s £142,500 salary, eight are paid more than £300,000. Another 11 take home between £250,000 and £300,000.

They include 35 people working on HS2, the train line linking London with the Midlands and the north, including chief executive Simon Kirby who takes home £750,000.

Sir Jeremy Heywood, the head of the civil service who has proposed a clampdown on the freedom of information act, received a pay rise last year to £195,000.

Fifty people at quangos set up during former health secretary Andrew Lansley’s controversial NHS reorganisation are on more than £150,000.

Public Health England employs 26 people who are paid more than Cameron, including the microbiologist Frances Gould who receives £220,000. Another 24 are at NHS England, with the highest paid £205,000.

The NHS Trust Development Authority and Monitor, which regulates foundation trusts, have seven people each who are paid more than Cameron.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre, which collects statistics for the NHS, has six on the list; while NHS Blood and Transplant is on five.

Another four officials at the Care Quality Commission, which has been severely criticised by MPs, earn £150,000 or more, including chief hospitals inspector Michael Richards on £235,000. The NHS rationing watchdog Nice has two high earners on the list.

At the Department of Health, five civil servants earn more than the PM, including chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies on £210,000.

The figures do not include chief executives of individual NHS trusts, many of whom will be on more than Cameron.

The salary information, released by the Cabinet Office on Thursday, found that the number of public servants on £150,000 or more is at its highest since 2010, when the figure was 328.

Last year the total was 314 – meaning that five more jobs have exceeded the threshold since 2014.

HM Revenue and Customs has seven officials on the list, including permanent secretary Lin Homer on £185,000.

The Cabinet Office, which comprises the prime minister’s office, has 13 people on the list and the Green Investment Bank also has 13. It includes head of investment banking Edward Northam, earning £330,000.

There are 13 staff at the Civil Aviation Authority earning more than the PM, including the chief executive Andrew Haines on £305,000. The National Crime Agency has three, Highways England has two, as does the Crown Prosecution Service. MI5 and MI6, the two security services, each employ one person on the list.

The British Council was criticised by independent auditors on Thursday morning after paying its chief executive and chief financial officer more than the prime minister without seeking prior approval from the Treasury.

Its new head, Sir Ciarán Devane, was paid £185,000, while its CFO, Caroline Stockmann, was given a salary of £142,000 along with a one-off payment of £11,837, the National Audit Office found.

Any executive payments worth more than the prime minister’s pay of £142,500 should be approved by the Treasury in advance.

As a result, the Foreign Office, which oversees the British Council, has been fined £200,000 which is expected to be passed on to the council.

The Guardian was made aware of inquiries into the organisation’s pay to executives last week. On Monday, the British Council’s director of communications, Sao Bui-Van, denied that there had been inquiries into executive remuneration or a review of how pay is distributed.

Following the release of the NAO’s report on Thursday morning, he wrote: “We accept the National Audit Office’s qualified opinion on these matters. We have also reviewed our recruitment and remuneration processes to ensure that Cabinet Office and HM Treasury requirements are adhered to in future.”

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rajeev Syal, for theguardian.com on Thursday 17th December 2015 19.32 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010