Revealed – how much your West Suffolk councillor will get in allowances from May 2019

West Suffolk Council will see allowance changes from May. Picture: PHIL MORLEY

West Suffolk Council will see allowance changes from May. Picture: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

The amount in allowances councillors in West Suffolk will get from May has been revealed ahead of a meeting next week.

James Waters said the council needed to be responsible with taxpayer money but provide an allowance

James Waters said the council needed to be responsible with taxpayer money but provide an allowance that would enable people to stand for council. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK COUNCILS - Credit: Archant

Findings from the independent remuneration panel have been published ahead of next week’s West Suffolk Council shadow council meeting, outlining the recommended councillor allowance levels from May 6 this year.

The panel has recommended a small increase in the basic allowance up to £5,900 – £441 per year more per councillor than is currently seen at St Edmundsbury Borough Council and a £763 per councillor annual increase at Forest Heath. It equates to a cost of around £2.10 per resident.

From May the two councils will cease to exist and the new West Suffolk Council formed.

But despite the increase, the reduction in councillors from 72 to 64 under the new council, coupled with the fact that there will only be one leader, one cabinet, and one set of committees which chairs and vice-chairs will get special responsibility allowances for, the overall saving will be £30,566, or 5.7%.

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Shadow council leader James Waters said: “Our residents and taxpayers rightly expect us to be prudent with their money in running a lean and effective council.

“At the same time they want us to reduce barriers for people to take part in the democratic process and stand themselves to be councillors.

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“Our make your mark campaign is part of that work to encourage people to stand and vote in the forthcoming election.

“Like every council across the UK the new council has to have remuneration policies for councillors.

“We have before us a report rightly carried out by an independent panel that has looked at the current and future demands on councillors, the national picture and value for the taxpayer.

“I look forward to hearing the debate on this but welcome the principles that the suggestions being made are based upon.

“That is a saving on our current budget of nearly 6% while also addressing the need to make sure we attract a range of councillors who previously might not have been able to afford to stand will get the chance.

“Councils need to not only represent their communities but reflect them too.

“This is part of a wider picture of policies and changes that we have had to make, think through and harmonise ready for the new council.”

The current basic allowance of £5,459 at St Edmundsbury is the highest in Suffolk, although it is not yet clear whether the new West Suffolk Council will have the highest allowance rate from May, as the merger between Waveney and Suffolk Coastal district councils has not yet declared its allowance rates.

Richard Cooper, chairman of the independent remuneration panel, said that councillors were not deciding their own allowances as a whole new council was being formed.

He said: “After looking at the evidence we believe that the total allowances should cost less than the original combined budget.

“But we also understand the heavy commitment needed to be a councillor which is a 24 hours a day role helping solve complex issues and dealing with very vulnerable people.

“We believe our recommendations represent good value for money for West Suffolk.”

The shadow council meeting will discuss the proposals and make any recommendations for the new council to discuss once it is formed.

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