Mid Suffolk: Allowance increase of almost 10% proposed for councillors

Mid Suffolk District Council in Needham Market.

Mid Suffolk District Council in Needham Market. - Credit: Archant

The leader of an authority which has been recommended an allowance increase for councillors of almost 10% has said he wished there was an alternative to the current “awful” system.

Mid Suffolk district councillors will vote on Monday on the proposed increase of the basic annual allowance –from £3,684 to £4,000.

An independent remuneration panel has recommended the increase along with rises – in some cases by more than 100% – to other entitlements.

Derrick Haley, Conservative leader of the council, said: “I think we have always had a problem with anything to do with this – voting for ourselves. It’s not a good way of doing it; no-one likes doing it.

“My first reaction is that I have never liked it – it’s like MPs voting for their own expenses. It’s an awful system; I have never been comfortable with anything like this.”

The proposals would mean the vice-chairman of the council would see their allowance – on top of the basic allocation – rise from £921 to £2,000. The deputy leader of the council would also be entitled to £6,000, compared to the current £4,146, for their additional work.

It is the first review of allowances for six years and does mean some councillors will lose out for taking on extra work.

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Opposition leader, Green councillor Andrew Stringer, has concerns funds could be stripped from the joint scrutiny committee.

The proposed allowance for the joint scrutiny chairman would fall from £3,684 to £2,000. While the deputy scrutiny leader would receive no allowance compared to the current £921.

Mr Stringer said: “I personally do not vote for any increases while I’m in office. I have no doubt that some councillors earn the allowances they get but there’s times when the public question whether some do enough to warrant it.

“But I personally think that the report is about right, but I will not be voting in favour of the rise.”

The allowances claimed by the council’s 40 councillors in 2012/13 totalled more than £243,000.

The basic allowance for several senior councillors will remain unchanged.

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