THE number of council staff paid more than £50,000 a year rose 12 per cent in one year in Buckinghamshire according to new research.

Staff on this wage rose from 314 to 357 in the four top-level councils that cover south Bucks, research from the TaxPayers’ Alliance shows.

This increases the cost per taxpayer to about £50 a year compared to £45 last year.

At Buckinghamshire County Council the number of high earners rose from 263 in 2006/07 to 301 in 2007/08, bringing the cost from £16.2m to £18.8m.

This costs each county resident £38.41 and is a sevenfold increase since 1996/97.

At Wycombe District Council the number of employees rose from 28 to 30, costing £2.1m, an extra £120,000 on the last year. This cost each resident £13.01 a head. None were on this wage in 1996/97.

Chiltern District Council's high earners rose from 13 to 15, pushing the bill from £685,000 to £995,000 – a cost of £10.96 per head, compared to £7.59 last year. Five were on this in 1996/97.

For South Bucks District Council the bill rose with one extra person to eleven making the final bill £650,000 to £755,000. This cost each district taxpayer £11.74.

None were on this wage in 1996/97.

In the UK the number of £50,000 plus staff rose from 31,000 to 37,000. This is an elevenfold increase since 1996, compared to a threefold increase in the private sector.

The national bill was £2.4bn.

Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “In the private sector thousands of people are losing their jobs, yet councils are better staffed and better paid than ever.

“Councils are ignoring economic reality and simply recruiting more managers and handing out more pay rises than taxpayers can afford.

“Council tax bills are cripplingly high, and town halls must change their ways to bring the bill down."