Norwich city councillors are set to decide whether to increase how much money they receive in return for their public service.

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An independent panel has recommended a number of increases in the annual allowances, which are intended to recognise the time commitment of councillors in helping constituents and attending meetings and to cover incidental costs such as telephone bills.

The recommendations would see the basic allowance, which all councillors are entitled to, increased by just under £600 from £5,420 to £6,000.

The leader of the council, currently Labour’s Brenda Arthur, would see their special responsibility allowance as leader go up from £6,504 to £10,000.

Cabinet members and the leader of the major minority party, currently Green Party leader Claire Stephenson, would see their special responsibility allowance go up from £4,552 to £5,000.

There would also be increases for chairs of licensing, planning and scrutiny committees of just over £200, from £2,278 to £2,500, while the chair of audit would, for the first time, be entitled to that allowance.

Other members of audit, licensing, planning and scrutiny committees would also see a slight increase, from £1,302 to £1,500, while there will be a limit on how many special responsibility allowances can be claimed.

In 2009 an independent panel recommended an increase, but that was put on hold as the council was on the brink of becoming a unitary council.

While the council’s hopes of making that switch were scuppered, the proposal for allowances increases was discussed again in 2010, but councillors decided not to take the increase.

The latest report, which has compared the allowances paid at City Hall to other similar councils, considered that “the level of responsibility and volume of work of the role of leader of the council warranted a significant increase in allowance”.

They found that, compared to the £6,504 the leader at City Hall gets, the leader of Cambridge City Council gets £10,433, the leader at Ipswich Borough Council £11,235 and the leader of the City of Lincoln Council gets £9,519.

They also felt: “The level of responsibility and volume of work of the role of cabinet member is undervalued in the current scheme.”

Mrs Arthur said: “I think we are likely to give it very serious consideration. It’s really important that a range of people of all ages can become councillors and that they can afford to do it.”

Miss Stephenson, below left, opposition Green Party leader, said her group recognises the importance of voluntary work and encourages people to be active in their communities.

She said: “However, the role of a councillor is not easy to fit with a full-time job and many excellent potential councillors are currently unable to stand for election because they can’t afford to.

“This leads to a democratic deficit and a situation where only people who don’t need to work full-time can be councillors. We want a truly democratic situation where no-one is prevented from being a councillor because they can’t afford to do the job. With a basic allowance of £6,000 a year, councillors will still be paid way below the minimum wage and we need to acknowledge the many hours they put in voluntarily.”

If the recommendations are agreed at tomorrow’s full council meeting, then the budget for paying allowances would have to be increased from £310,000 to £326,000.

James Wright, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “As a group we have had discussions around this when the original report was produced, but as of yet we have not met as a group to discuss what we are going to do.”

Another recommendation of the panel is that councillors are not allowed to join the local government pension scheme. Their report says there was “some, but not a high level of interest from councillors” in doing that.

But the panel concluded it would be “expensive and administratively difficult for the council to manage” and would be unlikely to be worthwhile for councillors.

12 comments

  • No Andy T. Very many of these people do these jobs because they are hopeless and unemployable elsewhere. Certainly the calibre of Tory Councillor (not that that is a problem in Norwich) is awful. Most of them are clueless and have only one thing going for them. An amazing ability to kowtow to whoever is in charge to get their little bit of money. As you say most school leavers would turn their noses up at that sort of money but if you are a hopeless cove who didnt sort out much of a pension this money comes in jolly useful. Meanwhile I would much prefer to see the European model work over here with very local council committees deciding on what happens in their area with much larger unitary areas looking after much larger responsibilities. And as you say BigX proportional representation would make this work so much better. And if everyone is independent so much the better.

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    Electra

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • Despite the fact that they have hammered local authority workers pensions,the Tories in local government are falling over themselves to join.If the public wants to achieve a government of all the talents it has to be attractive.It would give the LGPS a higher status too.

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    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

  • Only considering - its a foregone conclusion! After all aren't all politicians good at spending other peoples money!!

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    biglingers

    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

  • Whatever colour party you are talking about, they don't do it for the money despite complaints that they are raking it in.. School leavers can start jobs at more than double that!

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    Andy T

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • The extra bit I would add is to replace some of the current county council functions by an elected regional government.The administration of local democracy should remain at the lowest level possible but their must be strong self-governing cities on a more European model.

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    Peter Watson

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • I agree Alecto. We have far too many of these part time part political non-entities. Get rid of all district councils, give a bit more power to the parishes (who mostly do not claim expenses) and have unitary councillors. Part of the problem with the expenses issue is that NCC and some districts prefer having meetings during the day whereas parishes have theirs at night meaning people can attend easier when trying to fit in around their day jobs. Attendance by the public might also increase if meetings are held in the evenings. The PR voting system is one that I support for local government.

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    BigX

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • It would be most unwise for them to consider an increase, if they do they will find they won't be councillors for much longer.

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    John L Norton

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • The council are a disgrace and should be bought to court to explain their actions. Our footpaths have been left unpassable these past few weeks, our roads ungritted,our bins not emptied and litter everywhere - yet again they ignore the very basics of council duties and line their own pockets. Last month we read they had spend £110,000 on updating councillors laptops to 'pads', and now they want more money for themselves. I have had experience as a councillor all be it in Cambridge, but since moving to Norwich I have been shocked as how easily the city council is robbing us all. Take a day out and visit Acle auctions, their is a pile of council owned equipement standing their which is being sold off bit by bit - ask in the office who the vendor is and its NOT Norwich City Council but various dealers - That is OUR equipement being sold off to line 'someones pockets'. I dont expect this to be posted as i have noticed that if one should dare to complain about either Norwich City Council, The Police or Norwich City Football Club posts are taken down. Wake up people of Norwich and rid ourselves of these bent and currupt people

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    pubmandave

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • While most people are finding times hard to even pay their bills and put food on the table, NCC could take the bold step and allow no increases in their allowances. There are hundreds of thousands of workers who get their annual salary and out of that comes finding monry to travel to and from work, to also pay for lunches, and they do not have the luxury of going to the bosses for extra, so what is good for us normal working citizens should be good enough for those that reside in City Hall. As for councillors having more responsibility again welcome to the real world of the average working class !

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    chebram71

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • For heaven's sake this has to stop. Would anyone trust their doctor to do a good job if they earned £6,000 p.a. or even £10,000, or their lawyer or their accountant. No they wouldn't so why we have this bunch on tiny weeny stipends in charge of vast quantities of our money. Yes, put up the money, and put it up a lot so we get the most qualified personnel. Then reduce the amount of these little creatures we have wandering around to about half a dozen to compensate for the increase in their salary and have them elected on proportional representation. Then they can do all the tasks full time and they cant spend their time squabbling because there wont be enough of them to spend their time lifting their paws and spitting at one another.

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    alecto

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • I would back a regionally elected government on a full PR basis and future cities to have it too.In a Norwich of 250,000 there would be a very subtle balance between blue,green,red and yellow, a 4-way tussle.That may work.

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    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

  • Whatever colour party you are talking about, they don't do it for the money despite complaints that they are raking it in.. School leavers can start jobs at more than double that!

    Report this comment

    Andy T

    Monday, January 28, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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