Agenda item

Report of the Independent Remuneration Panel: Members' Allowances Scheme (Report number: COU/WS/22/022)

Report number: COU/WS/22/022


Council considered this report, which presented a recommendation of the Independent Remuneration Panel following its consideration of whether to recommend an uplift in the members’ basic allowance.


Local authorities were required by the Local Authorities (Members' Allowances) (England) Regulations 2003 (the Regulations) to establish and maintain an independent remuneration panel to make recommendations on the level of basic and special responsibility allowances and associated matters that were paid to councillors.


In February 2020 Council approved the Members’ Allowances Scheme (the Scheme) which could be found under Part 6 of the Constitution (Appendix 1 attached to the report). Paragraph 2.2 of the Scheme provided ‘The sum of £6,291.71 shall be uplifted each year by the same rate as the Annual Pay Award provided to the majority of Council staff. Should this be 3% or higher, then the Remuneration Panel should consider the level of increase and make recommendations to the Council accordingly.’


The Local Government Services Pay Agreement 2022 to 2023 was reached on 1 November 2022 and implemented from 1 April 2022 resulting in the sum of £1,925 per annum being added to all payscales agreed under the terms of conditions of the National Joint Council (NJC). The mean average of this increase across all NJC pay grades was 6.9 percent.  Accordingly, the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) was required to consider the level of increase to members allowances and make a recommendation to Council.


The IRP met on 24 November 2022 and considered it appropriate for the members’ basic allowance to be uplifted by 6.9 percent to £6,725.83 being the mean average of the Annual Pay Award for staff, with effect from 1 April 2022. This uplift would also affect the Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs), which were calculated as multiple factors of the basic allowance, as set out in Appendix 2. If approved, this would create an additional budget impact of £37,147. The IRP’s rationale for recommending this uplift was set out in section 2 of the report.


Unfortunately, Richard Cooper, Chair of the Independent Remuneration Panel was unable to attend the meeting, therefore in his absence, the Monitoring Officer read out a statement on his behalf, which primarily set out the IRP’s rationale in reaching its decision to recommend that provided in the report.


The Chair called upon Councillor Carol Bull, Portfolio Holder for Governance to speak on the item. She duly thanked Richard Cooper and the IRP for the work undertaken on this matter. However, whilst the IRP’s rationale for its recommendation was understood, she and members of the Conservative Group, felt this could not be accepted, particularly in the current economic climate. Councillor Bull subsequently proposed an alternative motion as follows:


“I would like to thank the panel for their work; however, we have reviewed this as an administration and my proposal is to defer any uplift in the basic allowance for members until the Members’ Allowances Scheme is reviewed in full, which will be next year (2023) as the existing scheme expires in February 2024.”


This proposal was duly seconded by Councillor Lance Stanbury.


A detailed discussion was held with members across the Council supporting the proposal to defer any potential uplift in the basic allowance until the scheme had been reviewed and adopted by the new Council following the district council elections in May 2023.


Comments included the fact that the receipt of the basic allowance was not a primary reason for the majority of councillors standing for election; the amount of allowance payable should not be a barrier to deter people from standing for election, however, the allowance was not a salary and should not be viewed as such; and whether members should receive an allowance at a fixed amount for the duration of their four-year term.


On the motion of Councillor Bull, seconded by Councillor Stanbury, it was put to the vote and with the vote being 48 for the motion, none against and one abstention, it was




That any uplift in the basic allowance for members be deferred until the Members’ Allowances Scheme is reviewed in full, which will be next year (2023) as the existing scheme expires in February 2024.


(Councillors Susan Glossop, Beccy Hopfensperger and Lance Stanbury left the meeting at the conclusion of this item.)

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