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Telford councillors set to be awarded 20pc rise in allowances

By Dominic Robertson | Telford | Politics | Published:

Telford & Wrekin councillors could see their basic allowance increase by 20 per cent, from £7,870 to £9,444, if they approve recommendations.

An independent review panel has made the recommendation, arguing that because allowances have not increased since 2010, the level has actually fallen by 20 per cent.

The councillors themselves will have to vote on the recommendation at the full meeting of Telford & Wrekin Council which takes place on Thursday.

Included is a suggestion that the leaders special responsibility allowance, currently a position held by Councillor Shaun Davies, should be increased by £5,295 – from £23,768 to £29,063.

The deputy leader's special responsibility allowance would also go up £2,648, from £15,898 to £18,647.

Under the recommendations, the allowance for cabinet posts would increase by 20 per cent from £11,805 to £14,166.

Allowances for the opposition leader would go up from £9,837 to £11,804, and from £3,664 to £4,397 for the leader of any minority party.

The current standard councillor's allowance at Shropshire Council of £11,514 is higher than the Telford level.

In its findings the panel has described the proposals as a "perfectly acceptable cost of democracy".

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It states: "It should be pointed out that the overall cost to the council of the proposals made by the panel would be close to £123,000, an increase of 20 per cent on the current allowances figure.

Pattern

"The new total allowances figure represents .175 per cent of the council’s total revenue budget, in the panel’s view a perfectly acceptable ‘cost of democracy’.

"In the interviews with councillors, a clear pattern emerged of the time commitment put in by councillors of various categories. Those operating at cabinet level argued that it was close to the equivalent of a full-time job – 30-35 hours per week.

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"Those not holding positions of responsibility typically claimed that they spent 20-25 hours a week on council business.

"If the principle that councillors should be expected to give half their time commitment on a voluntary basis, and be remunerated for the other half, then the hourly rate they would receive if the panel’s proposals were to be implemented would work out at £16 for the former and £28 for the latter, arguably meagre reward for the importance of the work they do."

The panel has argued that the lack of increases in allowances for the authority's councillors has been "unusual".

Its report states: "Since 2010, no increase of any kind in members’ allowances in the authority has taken place. This degree of abstinence is unusual; most councils have allocated small annual increases in members allowances which match those sanctioned by the government in relation to officers’ pay, which over the period have varied between nought and three per cent.

"Had Telford and Wrekin followed this practice, members’ allowances would have increased by around 8 per cent between 2010 and 2019.

"Over the period 2010-18 (the last year for which figures are available), there has been some variation in the calculation of the cumulative rate of inflation, depending on the criteria used. The retail price index indicates a 26 per cent increase, average earnings 17 per cent and the GDP inflator 14 per cent. These three figures average out at 19 per cent. Given that there is a further year of inflation to be added on (2018-19), the Panel felt it would be appropriate to use a figure of 20 per cent in its calculations, which would, if anything, probably be an underestimate.

"The implication is that over this nine-year period the real value of members’ allowances in the authority has fallen by the same figure – 20 per cent."

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