Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Councillors Allowances

The press has been all over the hikes in Councillors Allowances and Council Leader Cllr Steve Morphew has a piece in the paper today defending the decision (at least, I think it was a defence...)

I have raised this issue before. Councillors get paid a pittance for the amount of work we actually do. If we continue to pay so little then I am not surprised that people are unwilling to shelve the rest of the their lives and take time off work to do it. I know that the vast majority of councillors do it for their communities, but we need to make sure that nobody is out of pocket by being a Councillor.

However ... allowances are one of those difficult issues to square with the public. How can the council even think about paying ourselves more when cuts are being made across the board and budgets are being squeezed? How can we accept more cash and then tell taxpayers there is no money for them?

Allowances are difficult to juggle and I would be interested in views on what to do about them. How about this - they are set and paid for by an Independent Body, using central government funding, and outside of the control of the council whilst not impacting on local services?


Anonymous said...

IMHO, councillors are well worth their 40% expense rise to £7,500. They largely do great work. If they were paid £20,000 full time this would not be acceptable to the public, but they are not. To attract quality councilllors an adequate expense figure must be there.

Antony said...

I couldn't agree more. Members of Scottish local goverment earn a lot more. Time we started treating it as a part-time job rather than a jolly nice hobby.

Anonymous said...

As a Council Tax payer with an interest in politics I agree with most of that.

One extra point is that if Councillors get more allowance they might be able to spend more time finding savings on Council tax (and we might be able to attract more Councillors with sufficient skills to be able to do so in the first place!).

Try asking some "real people" how much they think their Councillors are paid, and ask them how many hours the average Councillor puts into it. The gap between perception and reality is rather striking.

How about varying allowances depending on what additional income each Councillor has, so those who are doing it full time get paid more than those who have a £50K per year job and are a Councillor in their spare time?