No rise in allowances for Suffolk county councillors in 2021
- Credit: ARCHANT
Councillors at a Suffolk authority will not be upping their allowances this year – but a fresh review is set to take place within two years.
A review of councillor remuneration last took place at Suffolk County Council in 2017, with current rates agreed to run until the end of March 2021.
A report, published by an independent panel, assessing the financial incentives for councillors due before this week’s full council meeting has recommended that the current levels remain from next year - but suggested the council commission a fresh review in 18 months or two years.
According to the report, the basic allowance of £10,688.79 is “in the middle-to-high range” when compared with other county councils.
That prompted a recommendation for the amount to stay the same, albeit with an annual increase in line with the Local Government Pay Award.
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The basic allowance is payable to all councillors, but a special responsibility allowance (SRA) is paid to the leaders, cabinet and deputy cabinet members, leader and deputy of the opposition political groups, chairman and vice-chairman of the council and those who chair committees.
Suffolk ranks as second highest proportion of councillors who claim SRAs compared with the five other comparative authorities, with 53% or 40 councillors out of 75 getting the additional money.
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According to council data, the allowances budget this year is just over £1.2million, out of the local authority’s total budget of £935m.
That puts its councillor allowance budget in the middle of the other comparative councils – Essex, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire.
County council leader Matthew Hicks said: “Councillor allowances are reviewed by an independently appointed panel which considers how much may be claimed back by councillors, up to a maximum amount, if they incur costs as part of their roles and responsibilities, including travel and childcare.
“Suffolk is in line with the majority of local authorities across the country in the amounts that can be claimed through councillor allowances and we take our duties in managing public finances incredibly seriously.
“For that reason we were very clear that even if an increase had been recommended by the panel, we would not be making any increase in allowances this year given the challenges faced by so many across Suffolk.
“The number of councillors with special areas of responsibility is based on the range of political groups and committees we have as a public authority.
“Not every council works in the same way, for example at Suffolk County Council, allowances are not restricted to the ruling administration. Opposition councillor positions receive allowances based on their group and committee positions.
“As part of representing our communities, we are very keen to encourage a broader range of people to consider becoming a councillor. We know that one of the major obstacles to this is often childcare.
“Therefore this year’s independent review reflects the council’s focus on supporting children and young people, and this includes supporting councillors with children where there may be related care costs.”