AS I remember the fifties, top managers’ salaries, commercial and civil were in the £5,000 pa range or max quarter of a million currently.

Even when I was a councillor twenty years ago the councillors’ expenses total in Bury was the equivalent of barely one thousandth of budget otherwise the going rate for individuals’ remuneration at the top of FTSE companies — by Tory national press reports without gripes.

Reagan and Thatcher made worshipping the golden calf the actual social religion with real — and fingers in the till — rises in top salaries.

If you do not, to some degree, keep up with it you will have either no recruits or be putting work out to contractors who will pay more to managers than you would have paid directly.

In all the tabloid jealousy of public service workers, try finding the salaries of the top varlets at G4, Capita, Serco and, before collapse, Interservice and Carillon. The private sector is not universally efficient and posits paying top managers above par and underpaying the shop floor in the assurance that the taxpayer picks up the difference with benefits. Shareholders for some contradiction in Tory “ideology” are more worthy of reward than tax and ratepayers.

Under Mrs T and George Osborne we have seen a massive re-run of the Speenhamland System of the early 1800s by which the big landowners got a handout wage subsidy through the rates levied on the middling.

That ran into the buffers of the “new” Poor Law of 1834, but its workhouse harshness was quickly seen to be excessive.

Austerity is not over (really?) because it has reduced the deficit or the national debt, but because it's wrecking the staffing of the public services and is costing Tory grass roots votes.

That is why this cabinet is skittering about with extra funds for police and health and soon it will be teachers.

Public service is public washing up and not amenable entirely to market manners or the market would do it, as proven by the probation fiasco - simples!

Frank Adam

Harley Avenue