AN independent panel has set out its recommendations for the payment of allowances to elected members of Leicester City Council.
The recommendations, which are made by a panel of seven independent people with experience in fields including finance, local government, business, law, employment law, pay bargaining and economics, cover the allowances of the City Mayor and all 54 city councillors, including the eight assistant city mayors.
Allowances have to be set by law and would cover the period 2020/21 to 2023/24, and are calculated using a combination of factors including comparisons with other similarly-sized councils, average local salaries and the recognition of public service.
People are being given the chance to comment on the proposals before they are presented to a meeting of the full council later this month. The council will consider any comments received before deciding whether to accept the recommendations, which propose small increases in some allowances, and reductions in others.
Allowances are made up of a payment known as Basic Allowance which is paid to all 54 councillors in recompense for the time and work involved in their roles. Additionally there are Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) covering the roles of councillors who also have particular areas of responsibility, who chair committees or who hold assistant mayor portfolios.
There is also a Civic Allowance for the annual role of Lord Mayor.
The basic allowance for councillors is currently £10,767 a year, plus £1,205 to cover travel and subsistence within the city. The panel has recommended a small increase in the basic allowance, to £10,974 a year, but also a reduction in the travel and subsistence allowance to £1,000.
The City Mayor’s remuneration is currently £72,015, and made up of an SRA of £62,148 on top of a basic allowance of £10,767 a year.
The statutory independent panel has recommended increasing the City Mayor’s SRA slightly to £64,026, which combined with the recommended increase in basic allowance, would bring the total remuneration to £75,000, having compared it to salaries of other city mayors and the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
There was no increase in allowances recommended for Deputy City Mayors or Assistant City Mayors, but the City Mayor is being given more flexibility to allocate their allowances according to the responsibilities which are being undertaken.
Allowances for most other roles will remain the same, including chairs and vice chairs of committees, opposition group leader and majority group whip.
An increase was recommended for the chairs of licensing and planning roles, from £8,502 to £10,202, in recognition of the greater responsibility and time commitment involved when compared to other chairs.
The Civic Allowances for the Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor and High Bailiff will also remain unchanged.
The recommended changes would result in the overall spend on councillors’ allowances and support to increase by £7,560 – the equivalent of 0.65 percent of the total budget of £1.155m for support and allowances.
The full report can be seen at www.leicester.gov.uk/remunerationpanel
The panel was chaired by Dr Declan Hall, an experienced Independent Remuneration Panel chair and former lecturer in local politics at the Institute of Local Government at The University of Birmingham. This was the second time Dr Hall had chaired the remuneration panel, having previously done so in 2016.
Other panellists include Chris Hobson, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the East Midlands Chamber; Rasheed Cader, a recently-retired long-serving local magistrate; Debbie Cort of the Communications Workers Union, Telecoms and Financial Services Executive representing Midlands TUC; retired financial consultant Dennis Allum; consultant in employment equality and diversity, regulation and consumer affairs Mehrunnisa Lalani; and Professor of Economics at Queen Mary University of London, Ludovic Renou.
Chair of the panel Dr Hall said: “This review, which is required under the 2003 Members’ Allowances Regulations, has built upon the foundations laid down by the previous review in 2016. As such it was limited in scope and has sought where it can to address anomalies arising.
“The panel has endeavoured to maintain a balance between ensuring that councillors’ allowances and expenses are fair and support councillors in carrying out their various roles and responsibilities, while representing value for money.
“Consequently, while the panel has recommended a marginal increase in the Basic Allowances and some Special Responsibility Allowances, there has also been a decrease in the travel allowances partially offsetting any recommended increases. Furthermore, the total sum of the recommendations do not exceed the monies budgeted for councillors’ allowances and expenses.
“In particular, while recognising that the principle of public service is built into the recommendations, the panel has a duty to ensure that councillors and prospective councillors are not financially disadvantaged by being on Leicester City Council.
“Being elected onto Leicester City Council requires such support to enable local representative democracy to be open to the many, not just those who can afford it. At the same time, the recommendations are robust, evidenced-based, comparable with peer authorities and not excessive.”
All comments received before Monday, March 16, will be presented to the full council for consideration at its meeting on Thursday, March 19.
Comments can be made by emailing email@example.com