Go ahead for 191 to earn above PM

Danny AlexanderTreasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander has personally approved paying almost 200 public servants more than David Cameron's £142,500 annual salary.

When the Government took office in May 2010 it was announced that the chief secretary would be required to sign off salaries higher than the Prime Minister as ministers sought to keep a tighter rein on public spending.
Mr Alexander has revealed to MPs that he has approved the remuneration of 191 individuals earning more than the premier.

The Cabinet minister, who took over the post following the resignation of his Liberal Democrat colleague David Laws in the early days of the coalition, said: "In May 2010 it was announced that the chief secretary to the Treasury would be required to sign-off the salaries of any individuals earning over a full-time equivalent of £142,500 in areas under ministerial control.

"As of April 17 2012, I have been asked to approve the remuneration of 191 individuals."

He added: "I usually approve salaries at a range, prior to advertisement. The Treasury does not hold information about the date on which the final appointments were approved, or whether the final appointments were made on a full or part-time basis, and therefore whether salaries were pro rata or not."

In response to a written question from Labour's Rosie Cooper he said none of the salaries he signed off related to GPs working in the clinical commissioning groups set to be the cornerstone of Andrew Lansley's health reforms in England.

In January this year Mr Alexander told MPs the need for his approval on high salaries was a "vital deterrent to ever higher pay at the top of the public sector" and claimed to have personally intervened to slash the pay rates for senior appointments. Mr Alexander said his actions had cut £100,000 from the salary of the Royal Mail chief executive and he had cut the salaries of 45 new recruits.

Mr Alexander said: "I now personally sign off any new pay above £142,000, the equivalent of the Prime Minister. This is a vital deterrent to ever higher pay at the top of the public sector. In central government alone, the number of people paid over £150,000 dropped by 55 since May last year and where applications do come in, I can and do reject them if I think they are too high.

"Since May 2010 in 83 like-for-like cases which sought my approval, pay was lowered in 45 cases, frozen in a further 23, saving more than £1 million a year for the taxpayer. This includes a £100,000 cut in the pay for the new chief executive of Royal Mail."

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