By politics.co.uk staff
The number of council employees earning six-figure salaries jumped by nearly a fifth last year, figures show.
Research by the Taxpayers' Alliance suggested 2,300 council staff were earning over £100,000, while 500 were earning between £150,000 and £200,000.
The 'Town Hall Rich List' was seized upon by the government, which is doing all it can to clamp down on excessive spending from local authorities in a bid to demonstrate sweeping cutbacks in public services are not the inevitable result of spending reductions.
"Labour ministers failed to ensure proper transparency and local accountability to keep it in check," local government minister Grant Shapps said.
"Too many dodgy deals were struck behind closed doors, with pay inflation fuelled by head hunters on commission and by boomerang bosses going from council to council hiking their pay."
In 2009/10 the pay bill for senior officers in local government reached nearly £600 million a year and hit £50 million for chief executives' pay.
Mr Shapps called on local authority leaders to follow the example of government ministers and take a pay cut.
"The new government is opening up the pay of middle and senior management to greater scrutiny, and will require any six-figure salaries to be approved - or vetoed - by elected councillors in the full public glare of the council chamber," he added.
Basic salary levels for chief executives increased by a third in the four years to 2007/08, according to a report from the Audit Commission.