BARNSLEY Council’s seven highest-earning employees collectively cost taxpayers more than £1m in wages and pensions in a year, new figures released this week revealed.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance’s ‘Town Hall Rich List’ compiled a list of staff members breaching the £100,000-a-year bracket in 2022/23.

Top earner was chief executive Sarah Norman, whose total package included a wage of £183,000 and a pension contribution of £30,000, totalling £213,000.

Core services boss Wendy Popplewell earned a salary of £135,000 and a pension of £22,000, followed by health and adult social care director Wendy Lowder, who pocketed £131,000 and £21,000 respectively.

Carly Speechley, who heads the children’s services directorate, was the only other employee to breach the combined £150,000 barrier.

Public health’s Anna Hartley, growth and sustainability’s Matt O’Neill and finance director Neil Copley all pocketed six figures.

A Taxpayers’ Alliance spokesman said: “This is the 17th version of this list, first compiled in 2007.

“We have assembled the most comprehensive list of council employees in the UK in receipt of over £100,000 in total remuneration.

“The average number of employees who received over £100,000 in total remuneration per local authority is seven, while the average number receiving over £150,000 is 1.7 employees per council.

“The figures in council salary bands rarely include pension contributions so consequently many non-senior members of staff in the headcount are reported as receiving salaries between £90,000 and £99,999, but their total remuneration exceeds £100,000 when employers’ pension contributions are taken into account.”

At last month’s full council meeting, councillors discussed the local authority’s annual pay policy statement.

It shows that the lowest-paid employee at the council earns an annual salary of £22,366 - which equates to an hourly rate of pay of £11.59.

Bosses have confirmed they are making strides to ensure that salaries are ‘not excessive’ - but confirmed Ms Norman’s current salary has already climbed to more than £190,000 without pension contributions, suggesting there will be a rise when next year’s costs are published.

A statement said: “We value diversity and are committed to equality within our workforce.

“Our ambition for Barnsley Council is to be a place where everyone is valued, respected, treated fairly and with dignity.

“Pay fairness is an important part of this commitment and as well as defining our policy on pay and related allowances, as a council, we are working on actions identified in our gender pay gap.

“The council is committed to tackling low pay and has pledged to pay a low pay supplement equivalent to the Foundation Living Wage rate.

“The pay rate is increased in accordance with any pay settlements which are reached through the National Joint Council for Local Government Services and through increases to the living wage as advised by the Living Wage Foundation.

“The highest-paid salary in this council is currently £192,057 which is paid to the chief executive.

“The median average salary in this council - not including schools - is £32,076.

“The authority is conscious of the need to ensure that the salary of the highest-paid employee is not excessive and is consistent with the needs of the council and as such the council takes the view that the pay multiple acts as a control element which will be monitored and reported annually as part of the review of this pay policy.”

Second-highest earner Ms Popplewell told the Chronicle: “As a large, complex organisation we have to remain competitive in the marketplace to ensure we can attract the best talent and deliver our ambitious plans for Barnsley.

“We provide competitive salaries to recruit and retain the best candidates for the level of responsibility.

“The majority of our employees’ pay is graded using the National Joint Council Job Evaluation Scheme structure.

“All of our employees play a crucial part in delivering the varied services that our residents see daily, supporting around 243,000 people.

“We’re transparent about the salaries of our senior officers and we publish the information on our website.”