South Norfolk Councillors set for 3pc allowances increase
06:30 16 May 2012
A council leader has defended plans to increase councillors’ allowances at a time when public sector workers are under a pay freeze.
South Norfolk Councillors are set to discuss proposals next week that could result in a 3pc rise in the basic allowance for the authority’s 46 members.
An independent panel recommends that the district council should increase members’ basic allowance from £4,333 to £4,463 following a three year freeze. A report also recommends that special responsibility allowances for cabinet members and committee chairmen should be increased by 5pc.
Councillors will discuss the allowance increases at a meeting on Monday. However, South Norfolk Council leader John Fuller said the authority would end up spending less on allowances under a restructure and shake up of committees within the council.
A report by an independent panel says that councillors’ workload has increased by around 10pc since the last time members filled out time sheets in 2009.
Mr Fuller said he was minded to follow the spirit of report and that South Norfolk Councillors represented “good value for money.”
“At the end of the day, South Norfolk took a lead four years ago to reduce allowances and since then it has been frozen. Performance has gone up in that time and council tax has been frozen and in that context 3pc is a modest amount. It would be anti-democratic if only the rich and retired applied to be councillors and we have to keep allowances in line with our neighbours,” he said.
A report says that councillors with special responsibilities are working 78 hours a month compared to 66 hours a month in 2009 and the workload of backbenchers has gone up from 41 hours a month to 52 hours. It adds that South Norfolk Council was paying slightly under the average across Norfolk.
Mr Fuller added: “Because of Localism, councillors’ responsibilities have increased and going forward there is an expectation that councillors will take on more responsibilities. It is a much more onerous task. When you look at the hours, it has gone up and there are more responsibilities and more to come.”
The council leader would be paid £9,712 a year and cabinet members £4,856 per year.