North Kesteven Council leader Richard Wright has said councillors’ allowances would “fall way short of national minimum wage” as members voted to be able to claim at least an extra £100 a year.
During a short agenda item, members of the authority’s full council voted to allow basic allowances to rise from £4,900 to £5,000 a year.
In addition, those with special responsibilities also get a 2% rise which will mean, for instance the council leader can claim an extra £366 a year (£18,566 total), while the deputy leader will be able to claim an extra £360 (£13,675).
Speaking following the meeting, Richard Wright said: “If you look at what’s paid in allowance for a councillor to undertake their duties, decisions, and the workload, especially those with special responsibilities, we’re not in paid employment, we do have an eye for people out there and that’s why we’re not paid exorbitant amounts of money.
“These are only in line with recent government recommendations for staff increases, no ore than that, and if you look at the level of allowance and the amount of work – which we’re very honoured to undertake – but the hours we undertake for that would fall way, way short of national minimum wage.”
During the meeting, members were told by Independent Renumeration Panel chairman Jim Scarsborough that the current allowance was “not out of step” but that the panel “didn’t want to fall behind”.
He added that the rise could help to attract and retain new councillors.
Councillor Kate Cook queried why the leader of the opposition was not getting a rise in allowances.
“Every democracy needs to have an effective opposition and I think the fact the leader of the opposition allowance is towards the lower end of comparable councils is not fair and should be looked at,” she said.
However, members were told a previous attempt two years ago had been rejected because it was not felt the leader of the opposition did not do enough to warrant it at the time, and the panel had felt that the situation had not changed.
West Lindsey District Council also recently approved a rise in their basic allowance and special allowances by 2%.