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No allowance rise at council

PUBLISHED: 05:00 01 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:13 24 February 2010

A CASH-strapped council has decided it cannot afford to pay a recommended 25% increase in allowances for councillors.

Suffolk Coastal District Council has decided to put on hold the large increase in the basic and special responsibility allowances.

A CASH-strapped council has decided it cannot afford to pay a recommended 25% increase in allowances for councillors.

Suffolk Coastal District Council has decided to put on hold the large increase in the basic and special responsibility allowances.

An Independent Panel had recommended significant changes to the way that allowances are paid to district councillors to bring them in line with those paid by neighbouring and national councils.

Ray Herring, council leader, said: ''The Independent Panel produced a very helpful and comprehensive report, the recommendations of which the Full Council accepted in principle. However, the clear view of the meeting was not to implement the report with immediate effect, but that priority be given to our drive for increased efficiency and tighter budgets at a time when Local Government finances are under considerable pressure.

''Rather than approving a sizeable increase in allowances, we have opted for a rise in line with the latest National Local Government Pay Award. This means that the basic allowances and SRAs will rise by 3.5 per cent, bringing the basic allowance for a Suffolk Coastal Councillor to £2,484. This continues to be one of the lowest allowance schemes in the region and well below neighbouring Ipswich currently paying £3,200 basic.

''The Independent Panel found strong and compelling reasons for recommending increasing the allowances to councillors, including the additional burdens of work and because we are well below the average paid to other similar councils. However, at a time when we have been battling against external factors to keep potential Council Tax increases below 10 per cent following a very poor Government Grant settlement, it would be inappropriate and financially unjustifiable to push through large increases.''

The Panel's review discovered that Suffolk Coastal's councillors received 'well below the average levels of comparable authorities', the average workload of 'backbench' members was over 20 per cent higher than previously estimated, and that the workload of Cabinet Members and Group Leaders was also more than had been originally expected.

The Independent Panel recommended that the basic allowance paid to all

councillors be increased to an annual sum of £3,000, a rise of £600.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk


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