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Councillor expenses....Questions and answers

Question marksWe’ve recently been asked about councillor expenses.  To find out more please read the following questions and answers.

Do you have to give councillors a basic allowance?

Yes, by law we must set a basic allowance which is payable to all councillors.  We can also set special responsibility, IT and travelling and subsistence allowances.

How do you work out the basic allowance?

We take an estimated average of 90 hours a month worked by a councillor / ward member and apply a discount of a third, which takes into consideration the fact that this is a voluntary public service role, before multiplying it by the average pay rate in Herefordshire, which is currently £10.07.

To view the allowances paid to councillors in 2013/14, please read the members’ allowances public notice on the council’s website.

What’s a special responsibility allowance?

A special responsibility allowance is provided for a role which has substantially more responsibility than just being a councillor / ward member, such as the leader or chairman of the council, a Cabinet member or a committee member.

These are structured in order of responsibility with the leader of the council being the highest role with all other roles being banded below accordingly.  The special responsibility allowance is benchmarked against comparative councils and local pay rates although this is due to be reviewed.

Are you increasing the councillors’ allowance?

At this time, no increase in the councillors’ basic allowance has been recommended, although it is proposed that incremental pay increases in line with council staff increments will be applied as and when they occur.

How often has there been an incremental pay increase within the council?

There have only been two incremental pay increases within the last four years.

Is there anyway you can withhold a councillor’s allowance?

No, we have to pay all councillors a basic allowance.  The independent remuneration panel, however, is proposing that a lower rate of allowance should be paid until specific mandatory training courses have been completed by each councillor.  The higher rate would only be paid for the full financial year if all the relevant training courses are completed by 1 September, otherwise the higher rate would be paid from the date of completion.

Is there more information available on councillors’ allowances?

If you’d like to know more about councillors’ allowances, please read the Government’s guidance on members' allowances for local authorities in England or visit the councillors allowances page on the council’s website.

What’s the independent remuneration panel?

The independent remuneration panel is a statutory requirement for all councils in order to review and make recommendations on certain types of allowances and expenses paid to councillors.  The panel reviews evidence received on councillor roles and responsibilities and submits its recommendations to full Council for consideration. 

There’s no actual legal obligation to implement the panel’s recommendations, but full Council must take the panel’s recommendations into consideration when determining the scope, levels of allowances and expenses received by councillors.  If it chooses an alternative route, it must give reasons for the decision.

The panel members are currently:

Will Lindesay
Chief executive, Herefordshire Voluntary Organisations Support Service

Peter Brown
Chief executive, Herefordshire Housing

Rob Garner  
Director, New Leaf Sustainable Development Ltd

All panel members are appointed following a public recruitment process and we are still looking to increase membership to the panel and as such welcome applications.  To find out more, please read the information for applicants document.

Tags: Your council