Local councils have been told by ministers they must do more to curb the pay of senior staff following the release of figures showing more than 28,000 local government employees receiving over £50,000 a year.
The TaxPayers' Alliance (TPA), which campaigns for lower taxes, calculated at least 28,754 staff working for councils across the UK received remuneration in excess of £50,000 last year at a cost of almost £1.9 billion.
The figure represents a drop of 3,991 staff on the previous year, with the total cost down by £270 million.
The TPA said the fall in part reflected the large number of redundancy payments made in 2010/11, which temporarily increased remuneration bills.
Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said the findings showed local authorities still had "massive scope" to cut costs to protect frontline services.