Anger as councillors get ready to increase their allowances again
- Credit: Neil Perry/Norfolk County Council/Denise Bradley
County councillors are likely to agree a further increase in their allowances next week - despite an independent panel urging them not to.
Norfolk County Council will agree its budget next week, which includes a 3.99pc increase in how much council tax people in the county will pay to County Hall.
But councillors will also decide whether to increase the allowances they are entitled to from May, linked to the pay increase for public sector workers - expected to be at least 2pc.
Leader Andrew Proctor is set to propose that the council agrees to that linked increase, even though an independent panel last year urged them against it.
The panel had said they "strongly urge the council to consider forgoing the further scheduled indexing in April 2020".
County councillors came in for criticism in December 2017 when they voted to increase their allowances by 11pc.That was against the recommendation of the independent panel, but then leader Cliff Jordan said it brought their allowances in line with comparable councils.
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Members of the opposition Labour group have been giving their allowance increase to community causes and leader Steve Morphew said: "Since May 2017 councillors have had around 14.5pc allowances increase. This 2pc from May will push it up to 16.5pc.
"This is greedy, unaffordable and in the light of the cuts they are imposing on some of Norfolk's most vulnerable people, it is saying Conservative councillors are more deserving than those people are."
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But Conservative leader Mr Proctor said it was an attempt to move away from the big allowance increases in the past.
He said: "In virtually every council, the members' allowances are linked to the staff increases, so you don't have a situation where you have to keep voting on increases.
"It works out at something like £25,000 and that's within a council with a billion pound plus budget."
But Ed Maxfield, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: "The council can't properly fund services to those most in need.
"The last thing we should be doing is giving councillors a pay rise. And we shouldn't just reject this pay rise, we should cut councillors' allowances back to the level there were in 2017 before the last big hike in pay."
While county councillors do not receive salaries, they are entitled to certain allowances. The basic allowance is £10,924.
And councillors with special responsibilities, such as council leader, cabinet member, leader of the opposition, chairman of committees and members of certain committees, are entitled to extra allowances.