Bill for Norfolk County Council allowances close to £1.3m - what did your councillor get?
- Credit: Alex Broadway/Denise Bradley/Nor
New figures have revealed how Norfolk’s county councillors were paid almost £1.3m in allowances and expenses over the past year.
And the figure is set to rise further in the months ahead, pending an agreement being reached on the pay increase for public sector workers, which councillor allowances are linked to.
While county councillors do not receive salaries, they are entitled to certain allowances. The basic allowance is just over £10,924.
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. They can also claim for travel and for broadband.
As leader of the Conservative-controlled council, Andrew Proctor received the most - £45,669.09, with his deputy Graham Plant second with £35,995.75.
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The councillors who claimed the most for travel were Andrew Jamieson, cabinet member for finance, who was paid £4,871.70 for travel and Baron Chenery of Horsbrugh, who received £4,390.70.
Mr Jamieson lives at Thornham near Hunstanton and Baron Chenery at North Creake, so face lengthy journeys to get to meetings at County Hall.
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Mr Proctor said: “The amount which members are paid is recompense for the work they all do in the community and for the council.
“The current levels were agreed after a recommendation by the independent remuneration panel. And we have to recognise that, even in the current circumstances, councillors are working hard for their communities.”
This year’s total was £1.29m. In 2018/19, County Hall paid just over £1.25m among the 85 councillors who served during that period - up about £50,000 on the previous year.
In February, the council voted to link future increases to the pay rise for public sector workers. Although that pay increase has yet to be agreed, it will be backdated once it is.
Steffan Aquarone, leader of the Liberal Democrat group said: “Like all my Liberal Democrat colleagues I have voted consistently against the Conservatives awarding members pay increases while families across the country struggle to make ends meet.
“I’m pleased to say I’ve donated more than £750 of my own additional allowance to date, to a variety of community initiatives in Melton Constable division.
“The system for calculating member allowances needs reviewing. We ought to be finding ways to make becoming an elected councillor something that anyone can afford to do - regardless of their financial circumstances.”
Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group, said his group had been spending their allowance increase on community projects.
He said; “We still oppose the huge increases but we couldn’t guarantee refusing them would mean the money would be spent on improving services.
“Until COVID-19 we used the excess to support our communities and charities in numerous different ways, everything from community events to families with an urgent need and local causes.
“Since the pandemic we started Food Out Friday to support food banks and help make sure nobody goes hungry in Norfolk. For summer that will evolve into trying to ensure no child in Norfolk goes hungry once government support is dropped.
“But our spending the excess allowances in our community doesn’t justify the increases. As the council and county faces the consequences of COVID-19, the county council should show leadership and compassion by rolling back the increases to cut the present level by about 15pc and waiving the backdated hike of at least 2.75pc that is coming soon.”