Revealed: How much your county and district councillor receives in allowances and expenses
- Credit: Archant
In part four of our series on The Price of Democracy, Dan Grimmer looks at what councillors can receive.
More than £3m was claimed in allowances and expenses by councillors in Norfolk and Waveney over the past year – but they insist they were worth it.
Across Norfolk, there are 414 county, city, borough and district councillors, who sit on eight local authorities making decisions which affect each and every one of us.
Unlike MPs, councillors do not get paid a salary, but are able to claim taxable allowances to compensate them for their time spent on council business. Yearly basic allowances in Norfolk range from the £3,459.09 paid by Broadland District Council to the £9,067.59 at Norfolk County Council.
Those who hold positions such as council leader, cabinet member, opposition leader and committee members are eligible for special responsibility allowances, with the largest payment of £26,373 available to the County Hall leader.
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Members can also claim for travel and subsistence, broadband and carers' allowances.
The allowances are proposed by independent panels, with councillors then voting on whether or not to accept the recommendations.
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Labour's George Nobbs, who earned £35,877.82 for leading an authority which is run by a rainbow alliance of Labour, UKIP and the Liberal Democrats, with support from the Greens, was top of the list.
He said: 'It is not about the money, though. Most people who know me would agree I would do this for nothing, but I am not foolish enough to do so.
'My view is that some councillors get too little money and some get far too much, but it is up to the electorate to decide which is which.'
Breckland Council leader Michael Wassell received £30,862.22, consisting of a £5,199.96 basic allowance, a £20,799.96 special responsibility allowance and £4,862.30 for travel. The £20,799.96 payable to the leader of Breckland far outstrips that payable to other district council leaders. The leaders of Norwich (then Labour's Brenda Arthur), Broadland (Conservative Andrew Proctor), South Norfolk (Conservative John Fuller), Great Yarmouth (then Labour's Trevor Wainwright) and Waveney (Conservative Colin Law) were entitled to claim less than half that total for being leader.
Mr Wassell said: 'We have some quite innovative projects to make Breckland a better place and the reality is that offering a fair allowance is important to attract the best candidates to be councillors.
'We don't want to have to rely on people who have independent means or are retired. Could I do this and have a full-time occupation? No, I don't think I could. The allowances allow me to concentrate on this role without having to split my time going out to another job.'
To see the data click here
NOTE: This article has been revised. The original article was based on incomplete data for members of Norfolk County Council.