Council chiefs have refused to reveal how much they pay senior staff for fear the employees could face reprisals from taxpayers.
The government has ordered local authorities to disclose the earnings of executives following concerns about the size of pay increases granted to council officers.
But the council bosses said the pay disclosures would leave their staff vulnerable to “personalised attacks and mischief making”.
They added that family members could be threatened and officials’ children bullied at school. One local authority even said the proposals represented “a gross invasion of privacy”, the Telegraph reported.
The TaxPayers’ Alliance, which uncovered the exchange through a Freedom of Information request, accused council chiefs of resorting to “emotional blackmail” and “scare-mongering”.
Councils were expected to list the names, salaries, pensions, perks and pay-offs of everyone paid more than £50,000 a year. But they have now persuaded ministers that they should only have to disclose the full details of staff earning in excess of £150,000 a year.
They will now only list the number of staff and the job titles of those earning more than £50,000, but no further details.
Rather than tens of thousands of local authority workers having their details published, now just 114 council staff – most of them chief executives – will have to disclose their pay.
Last summer, the government announced it would publish the names and salaries of “senior employees” at public bodies and any employee earning more than £50,000 a year – a total of 37,000 staff across all councils in England and Wales.
Wandsworth Borough Council warned “families could be at risk of abuse and children of bullying due to press misrepresentation of data”. Forest Heath District Council in Suffolk added: “The concern here is the potential misuse of this information for personalised attacks and mischief making.”
A spokesman for the Communities and Local Government Department said: “We believe the rules strike the right balance between naming all those employed by councils earning more than £150,000, whose salaries, pay and perks will be of greatest public interest, and identifying the posts of all other senior staff earning more than £50,000.”