Sandra Cox, Chairman of the IRP reported that this report is to recommend to Council the allowances and expenses to be paid to Members to take effect from December 2021 should recommendations be approved, in accordance with the requirements of the Local Authorities (Members’ Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003.
Sandra Cox reminded Members that an Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) should take place at least every 4 years. The last IRP was held in 2016 and therefore the 4-year period has lapsed. The Panel was due to meet in March 2020, however due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the meeting of the Panel was postponed, until November 2020 where a limited scope review was undertaken. Following this review, a recommendation from the Panel was to undertake a further review in 12 months’ time to understand the implications that the COVID 19 pandemic would have on Members workloads, and how meetings were to be run post Covid. Following discussion with Group Leaders and the Chief Executive Officer the panel were asked to undertake a full review of allowances in July 2021 in light of COVID 19 restrictions being lifted, and meetings returning to face to face.
The IRP ask Council to consider its recommendations and adopt a scheme of allowances and amend the constitution accordingly, as noted in paragraphs a) to t) of the report.
Councillor Myers reported that he was never in favour of a separate broadband allowance for Members and asked why it had taken 7 years to come to light as Members should fund this out of their basic allowance. However, he was minded to approve the proposal with the amendment that the broadband allowance of £180 be removed from the basic allowance. Councillor Talbot seconded the amendment proposed by Councillor Myers.
Councillor P Hammond asked for clarification as to the multiplier used to determine the remuneration for the Vice-Chair of Development Control Committee as on page 26 of the agenda report it started 0.25% when it should be 0.33%.
Councillor Wainwright reported that the Labour Group would not support this proposal due to the current uncertain economic climate due to the pandemic and suggested that this review be put on hold until the Council moved to a Cabinet system in 2023. However, the Labour Group would support the recommendation at paragraph 3.4 on page 11 of the agenda report which related to carer's allowances. Councillor Wainwright thanked Mrs Cox and her team for the work undertaken during the review.
Councillor C Walker reported that a similar review had taken place at the County Council 18 months ago resulting in a 17.5% increase in allowances. The system was broken and those Councillors who were twin-hatters would now benefit twice from these increases.
Councillor Robinson-Payne reported that she did not support the increase in allowances following the last IRP in 2016 and she would not support this one either as she felt that it was morally wrong and would once again donate the increment to her local Foodbank as she represented one of the most deprived wards in the Country. Councillors Jeal, Martin, and Smith-Clare reported that they agreed with Councillor Robinson-Payne.
His Worship, The Mayor, Councillor Thompson, reported that he would not support this proposal at a cost of £42k to the Council as we were experiencing tough times and Members should be seen to support residents and not reward themselves and he would be voting against recommendations, as at the last meeting Council had voted not to support the retention of the £20 a week uplift to Universal Credit which had been awarded during the pandemic.
The Leader of the Council reported that there was never a good time to review Members Allowances especially when the outcome was an increase and he thanked Mrs Cox and her team for their hard work. The Leader of the Council proposed to move recommendations a) to t) on pages 19 to 21 of the agenda report. This motion was seconded by Councillor Candon.
Council voted on the amendment proposed by Councillor Myers and seconded by Councillor Talbot. Following a vote, this motion was lost. A Member asked for a recorded vote to be undertaken but the Monitoring Officer reported that this request had been made too late in the proceedings to be able to be considered and put to the vote. Council then voted on the motion proposed by the Leader of the Council to move recommendations a) to t) on pages 19 to 21 of the agenda report. This motion was seconded by Councillor Candon.
PROPOSER: Councillor Smith
SECONDER: Councillor Candon
That Council agree to :-
a) The Basic Allowance for Members be increased to £5750 pa. This figure includes an
increase of £701 to reflect increased workload which the IRP considered would continue post pandemic and merge the old Basic Allowance figure of £4,869 with the Broadband Allowance of £180. Members are asked to note that currently there is both a Basic Allowance and a Broadband Allowance paid. This is contrary to the Regulations as there is no permissible Broadband Allowance, it is a mandatory requirement that the Basic Allowance and Broadband Allowance amounts are merged.
This increase consists of: £4,869 (the BA now) + £180 (the Broadband Allowance) + £701 (BA increase) = £5,750.Cost to Council Budget of £27,339.
b) The Basic Allowance Scheme should be indexed linked to officers’ pay awards
c) Council should be aware that the following Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs)
will all increase as they are based on a multiplier of the Basic Allowances which has been raised. Some have had their multiplier increased above this as it was thought that their work load had increased considerably too;
(d) The SRA for the Leader of the Council should be calculated by way of a multiplier of
x2.25 of the Basic Allowance;
e) The SRA for the four Service Committee Chairs (Policy & Resources; Economic
Development; Environment; and Housing & Neighbourhoods) should be calculated by way of a multiplier of x1 of the Basic Allowance;
f) The SRA for the four Service Vice-Committee Chairs (Policy & Resources; Economic
Development; Environment; and Housing & Neighbourhoods) should be calculated by way of a multiplier of x0.25 of the Basic Allowance;
g) The SRA for the Chair of the Development Control Committee should be increased to
reflect the demands of the role and frequency of meetings calculated by way of a multiplier of x1.25 of the Basic Allowance;
h) The SRA for the Vice-Chair of the Development Control Committee should be increased to reflect the demands of the role and frequency of meetings and calculated by way of a multiplier of x0.33 of the Basic Allowance;
i) The SRA for the Chairs of the Licensing and Audit & Risk Committees should be calculated by way of a multiplier of x1 of the Basic Allowance;
j) The SRA for the Vice-Chairs of the Licensing and Audit & Risk Committees should be
calculated by way of a multiplier of x0.25 of the Basic Allowance;
k) The SRA for the Chairs of the Standards and Appeals Committee should be calculated
by way of a multiplier of x0.25 of the Basic Allowance;
l) The SRA for the Mayor (Chair of the Council) should be calculated by way of a multiplier of x0.5 of the Basic Allowance;
m) The SRA for the Deputy Mayor should be calculated by way of a multiplier of x0.2 of the Basic Allowance;
n) The SRA for the Shadow Leader should be calculated by way of a multiplier of x1 of the Basic Allowance;
o) The SRA for Group Leaders to be calculated by a formula of ‘Basic Allowance ÷ number
of Councillors X number of members in a Party’. Example, if there were 10 members in a Party the Group Leader would receive: £5,750 ÷ 39 Councillors = £147.44 X 10 = £1474.40.
p) The existing travelling expensesscheme should remain at 45p per mile for cars; 26p per
mile for motorbikes; 15 p per mile for bicycles and 5p per mile for car share rate per Member.
q) The Carer’s Allowance be;
(i) Set at £10 per hour for professional childcare and £20 per hour wage for specialist care, and it should also include the new entitlement to employ people known to and trusted by a Councillor.
(ii)Amended to include childcare and care inside of the home whilst attending virtual meetings childcare and dependents care when attending meetings.
r) Existing Councillors who are co-opted should continue to receive no allowance. Non-Council members who are co-opted could receive an allowance to be agreed by a resolution of the committee at the time of appointment of co-opted members to the committee;
s) Regular and frequent training be given to all Councillors in respect of claiming expenses and allowances;
t) The changes should be implemented from the date when and if the Council agrees to
the recommendations from the panel and not backdated.