Seventeen council bosses in Sussex have been paid more than the Prime Minister, the latest accounts reveal.

A further 43 bosses took home more than £100,000 in taxpayer-funded salaries while councils were forced to slash millions from their budgets.

West Sussex County Council was the local authority with the most high paid senior staff members, with 20 taking home more than £100,000.

Their top paid member of staff got £387,000, with eight more earning more than David Cameron at £142,500.

The figures, revealed by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, are for 2012/13, the most recent local authority accounts.

Among the top earners at West Sussex County Council included the then chief executive Kieran Stigant at £203,700, the then director of finance and assurance Richard Hornby at £152,986 and the director of health and social care at that time, Michael Sadler, who was paid £174,600.

A council spokeswoman said the figures were outdated but said 16 members of staff still received more than £100,000.

They include chief operating officer Gill Steward, executive director of communities and public protection Sean Ruth and executive director of residents’ services, Diane Ashby.

Councillor Louise Goldsmith, leader of West Sussex County Council, said the findings were two years out of date.

She added that their two top payouts related to the retirement costs paid to two firefighters, which were not governed by the council.

She said the council had embarked on a “significant transformation programme” which would reduce their senior management team with savings of between £5 and £9 million.

“We’re confident that we offer value for money to our taxpayers. We’ve frozen council tax for the last four years and in a recent survey of our residents 62% said that they thought we offered value for money.

“The council is in effect a billion pound business with 800,000 customers. Managing that effectively requires excellent management and we’re confident that we’re offering our taxpayers value for money.”

The joint second highest councils in Sussex for staff earning more than £100,000 in 2012/13 were East Sussex County Council and Brighton and Hove City Council, both with six each.

One of the top earners at Brighton and Hove is the council’s chief executive, Penny Thomson, who takes home £150,000 – £7,500 more than David Cameron.

Sue Moorman, the council’s head of human resources and organisational development, defended the salaries.

She said: “We pay a fair market rate to attract the best candidates to roles. In many cases, similar roles in the private sector command a higher salary.

“We are committed to delivering the best value to council taxpayers.”

East Sussex County Council’s top earner in 2012/13 was chief executive Becky Shaw with £209,424, who remains at the local authority.

Among the other top earners are director of children’s services, Stuart Gallimore, and director of communities, economy and transport, Rupert Clubb.

A spokeswoman for East Sussex said the high salaries ensured they got the best people for the jobs.

She said: “They are responsible for helping to manage more than 15,000 staff and a gross budget including schools of £800m, which is spent on providing vital services to the people of East Sussex.

“It is crucial that senior managers have the skills, experience and knowledge to do their jobs well. To attract the best and brightest people you have to pay a competitive wage.”