Quango bosses are paid even more than you think

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You'd be hard-pushed to find someone who thinks that Quango bosses should be paid more - except perhaps at a meeting of Quango bosses. The government has recognised that most of us think a good chunk of them are overpaid and achieving very little, so they promised to axe the useless ones and freeze public sector pay.

However, they didn't reckon on just how clever and efficient these bosses can be when it comes to bumping up their pay packets on the sly.

The payments that didn't make the official list
The official figures on pay were damning enough, revealing that 291 of them are paid more than £150,000. However, it has now emerged that this is a drop in the ocean, because these leave out substantial payments made under a host of special rules. These can increase pay by hundreds of thousands of pounds, and push some closer to £700,000.

The culprits include bonuses. Take Tony Fountain, the chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. He's the best paid Quango boss of all - in charge of taking apart buildings very slowly in big suits. His official package is a shocking £520,000 including a salary of £365,000, second home payment of £85,937 and pension contributions of an incredible £70,810. However, this doesn't include a performance-related bonus - presumably for taking the buildings apart slightly faster, or keeping employees the right side of the danger zone - of £146,000 and a host of other payments, which left him sitting pretty on £675,000 last year.

Who on earth is worth that sort of money? Let alone a paper-pusher in charge of not making anything.

When a quango boss isn't a quango boss
Then there's Sir David Higgins, whose pay last year came from spending part of the year as the chief executive of the Olympic Delivery Authority and part as the boss of Network Rail. Neither of these organisations has been covered in glory in recent years, but it hasn't stopped him making £705,000 last year.

He slipped off the list of the overpaid because it was from two jobs - he left his first before the list was published. However, even if he had, it would have left us in the dark about this massive level of pay. The official salary at the ODA is £325,000, so we'd have learned nothing of his £179,000 bonus and £40,000 pension. And of course we wouldn't have heard anything of his massive pay packet at Network Rail because it's officially a private company - despite the fact that the taxpayer owns most of it.

And the list goes on, with a host of Quango bosses supplementing already massive salaries with these bonuses - and extra payments pushing their pay into the stratosphere.

These figures weren't on any official list, they were dug out of a series of accounts by the Daily Mail.

Who is in it together now?
It's a classic example of the fact that the government doesn't know how to do transparency. It simply doesn't know enough about what it is trying to make clear to know when there's something missing.

By claiming transparency and cost cutting and being found out like this, it just knocks another significant dent off the last vestiges of belief that we are all in it together. It seems we are in it alone, and even those fat cats who pretend to be sharing the pain are quietly picking up bonuses that most of us would have to work almost a decade to make.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office told the newspaper: "The Government addressed the unacceptable waste and inefficiency in quangos. There is still more to do, but increased transparency in public bodies and the removal of waste are top priorities."

Is it just me, or does this have a decidedly hollow ring to it now? Let us know in the comments.

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