Matthew Sinclair Chief Executive from the Tax Payers' Alliance and Councillor Theo Blackwell from Camden Council spoke to Daybreak about the town hall "Rich List" which reveals some of the highest earners in councils across the UK.
Speaking about the salaries of council leaders Mr Sinclair said: "Not everyone can get the very best chief executive and they [the councils] all get into this bidding war, and that's what's happened."
In response Mr Blackwell argued: "You need to have this in perspective here, the pay ratio from top to bottom at a council like Camden is ten to one the pay ratio in the FTSE 100 is 262 to one."
A Local Government Association spokesman has defended a report listing the highest paid town hall staff.
They said pay for senior staff has to provide "good value for taxpayers while ensuring the recruitment and retention of staff with the right skills".
– Local Government Association spokesman
Local government is showing wage restraint as the 11% fall in the number of staff on more than £100,000 a year shows. There has been no national increase in senior pay for five years, including in 2013/14. Incoming chief executives are also receiving salaries that are on average 8% smaller than their predecessors.
Local authorities work hard to ensure salaries are set at appropriate levels and have created the E-Paycheck system to allow remuneration committees to compare their pay rates with similar councils in other parts of the country.
The latest edition of the town hall "Rich List" from the TaxPayer's Alliance, using data from annual accounts, found a decrease in the number of employees receiving £100,000 plus.
The report said:
- 2,525 council employees pocketed more than £100,000, compared with 2,839 in 2010-11
- 636 staff received over £150,000, and 42 over £250,000
- The highest paid was Katherine Kerswell, former group managing director of Kent County Council, her total remuneration was said to be £589,165, although that included a sizeable redundancy package
More than 2,500 town hall staff were paid over £100,000 last year, research has shown.
Despite the number earning in six figures falling by 11% between 2011 and 2012, 103 councils were still employing more staff on that level than before, the TaxPayers' Alliance said.
It added that one executive was handed almost £600,000.