October 1st, 2016

Still bottom of the pile over wages

Updated: 10:15 am, May 07, 2015

COUNCILLORS in Redditch will remain the lowest paid in Worcestershire after rejecting a proposal to increase their allowances.

The Independent Remuneration Panel recommended the basic amount given to each councillor should rise from £3,350 to £4,200, while the council leader’s pay was recommended to almost double to £12,600.

A raise of almost £4,800 a year was proposed for those councillors with specific areas of responsibility and over £2,600 to the chairman of the planning committee.

It is the second year running the panel has put forward the recommendations, which if accepted would have added £56,000 a year to the council’s expenditure.

The average pay for a Redditch councillor is £4,722 compared to £5,954 in Bromsgrove.

Redditch councillors cost each resident £1.62 while Malvern councillors are the most expensive at £2.93 for each person.

Rob Key, chairman of the panel, said their recommendations were made based on benchmarking against other councils and thorough research.

“We have presented the council with what we consider to be an appropriate set of allowances to reflect the roles carried out by councillors. The purpose of allowances is to enable people from all walks of life to become involved in local politics if they choose. However, we acknowledge in the current challenging financial climate there are difficult choices for the council to make.”

A compromise proposal to increase the basic councillor allowance in line with the pay increase given to council workers was not discussed by the executive committee at a meeting on Tuesday (January 20).

Council leader Bill Hartnett said: “We are living in constrained times and austerity and my view would be we can’t afford £56,000 extra to raise allowances.”

Conservative group leader Coun Juliet Brunner added: “Although I think we work hard for what we do get, in these times of austerity it would not be morally right to accept any kind of rise.”

Councillors wrote to the Government last year asking for an independent body to be created to set their allowance levels but ministers rejected the idea.

However Coun Mark Shurmer said MPs had an independent body setting their salary which had caused them problems because they were unable to refuse a £9,000 pay rise.

“We would still have the problem of accepting it and public trust.”