Robert Jones, head of the Film Council's premier fund for commercial films, tops the UK film support body's salary list, according to its annual report.

Jones was on $127,000-$134,000 (£90,000-95,000) including benefits, for a period of just over six months from when he took up the post in August 2000. The former producer effectively earned more than chief executive John Woodward, who was on a salary of $139,700 (£99,000) for the year, plus a bonus of $26,800 (£19,000) and a pension contribution of $21,700 (£15,000).

Originally envisaged by the UK government as "a small strategic body", the council, which oversees all national Lottery support for film, has been attacked by filmmakers for supposed profligacy. While the 54 staff accounted for in the report is in line with original government plans, the number of people on the council's payroll is understood to be well over 70, when freelancers and short term contracts are factored in.

The body recorded annual overheads of $6.35m (£4.5), partly made up of lottery money and partly grant-in-aid, with wages and salaries taking up $3.53m (£2.5m). The total overhead is considerably more than the combined costs of the bodies the council replaced - the BFI Production department, the Arts Council of England's film department, British Screen Finance and the British Film Commission.

"It would have to be more because we are doing more things," a spokesperson said.

Paul Trijbits, head of the new cinema fund for low budget films, earned $91,700 - $98,800 (£65,000-£70,000) from September until March 31 2001. Jenny Borgars, head of the development fund, was on $49,400 - $56,400 (£35,000-£40,000) for the period from October 2000 to March 31 2001. Salaries for all three fund managers come from lottery cash.

Other top earners included British film commissioner Steve Norris, on $141,000 - $148,000 (£100,000 -£105,000) and head of business affairs Jackie O'Sullivan, on $77,600 - $84,700 (£55,000 -£60,000) for the period between September 1 2000 and March 2001.

The council is understood to have been trying to cut costs such as expenses in recent months, including fielding a slimmed-down team at Sundance. The body may also make further savings after restructuring its policy department. Last month saw the exit of head of policy Carolyn Lambert.

The council argues that it oversees far more activities than its predecessors. A substantial number of training, educational and regional schemes fall under its remit, while funding development, the cinema marketing agency and the research unit are new initiatives. The body has also helped lobby for the extensions of the UK's tax breaks and initiated working groups and reports for longer term policy in areas such as specialist exhibition and distribution and digital cinema.

One observer described the balance sheet as "extremely healthy", pointing out that the council recorded additional lottery revenues of around $7.1m (£5m) during the year, mostly from films made under former lottery administrator the Arts Council of England.