Suffolk council leader set for 15% pay rise with change to allowances

County council leader Colin Noble could get a 15% pay rise. Picture: SIMON PARKER.

County council leader Colin Noble could get a 15% pay rise. Picture: SIMON PARKER.

Suffolk County Council leader Colin Noble could get a 15% pay rise next year if the proposals of an independent pay panel are accepted.

Deputy leader of Suffolk County Council Jane Storey is in line for a 10% pay rise.

Deputy leader of Suffolk County Council Jane Storey is in line for a 10% pay rise. - Credit: Archant

His fellow cabinet members are in line for an 11% pay rise. Back bench members of the authority are set to see their pay go up by the same rate as council officers – whose pay rises are currently capped at 1%.

During the last financial year, Conservative group leader Mr Noble earned a total of £35,958 in allowances – £10,274 in basic allowance and £25,684 for his special responsibility payment.

If the changes are approved at next week’s full council meeting, Mr Noble’s total allowances could increase to about £41,500 in 2018/19 if council staff get a 1% pay rise.

The panel recommends the leader should get four times the basic allowance rather than 3.5 times at present.

Endeavour House, the headquarters of Suffolk County Council. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Endeavour House, the headquarters of Suffolk County Council. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Cabinet members would receive 2.75 times the basic rather than 2.5 times. Deputy leader Jane Storey would see her pay go up from 2.75 times to three times the basic allowance.

If there were a 1% increase in basic allowances, it would go up to about £10,375 a year.

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Mr Noble said there would be no cost to taxpayers because some special responsibility payments were being reduced: “This is entirely cost neutral. But I think if we bring in an experienced panel of experts to look at the allowances we have to respect their proposals.”

The panel was made up of former Suffolk County Council chief executive – and Whitehall Mandarin – Dame Lin Homer, New Anglia LEP chairman Mark Pendlington, Adnams chief executive Andy Wood and chair Sandra Cox who has sat on panels looking at council allowances across the area.

The increases come as the council is wrestling with tough cuts to its budget – and is looking for a further £55million of cuts over the next three years – but the move is unlikely to face political opposition at next week’s meeting.

Opposition leader Sandra Gage said the Labour group was broadly in support of the move because it would not cost more than the current scheme – and it would bring Suffolk into line with other authorities. She said: “The payments to cabinet members in Suffolk are comparatively low compared with other county councils, this will bring them into line.”

How the changes add up:

Leader: Colin Noble. Allowance 2017/18: £35,958. Possible allowance 2018/19: £41,508. Increase £5,500. 11%

Deputy leader Jane Storey 2017/18: £28,253. Possible allowance 2018/19: £31,131. Increase £2,878. 10%

Eight cabinet members each earn 2017/18: £25,685. Possible allowance 2018/19: £28,537. Increase £2,852. 11% Total increase: £22,816. Total increase for cabinet: £31,243.

The council is reducing the number of deputy cabinet members from eight to four.

Each earns £5,137 at present – making a saving of £20,548 – and is also cutting meal allowances for breakfast, lunch and tea (£1,700) and reducing the number of committee chairs by two saving a further £10,274.

The total savings therefore total £32,532.

However this does not cover the cost of a potential 1% pay rise for backbench councillors and the multiplier effect on opposition councillors with special responsibilities.