A £98 per year increase in basic member allowance has been agreed by Councillors at South Cambridgeshire District Council, following an independent panel making recommendations after comparing the rate to other similar councils.
Councillors agree independent recommendation for 2% increase in basic allowance in bid to 'open up the role to more people'
The changes agreed at the Council meeting will see the overall bill for member allowances fall by around £60,000 as the number of Councillors representing communities across South Cambridgeshire was cut from 57 to 45 last year.
The recommendations follow an independent panel assessing the time spent carrying out various roles, such as chairing committees and representing the Council on shared bodies such as the Combined Authority and Greater Cambridge Partnership.
All Councillors receive a basic allowance to compensate them in part for the time they spend representing communities. This will now be set at £5,010 per year, up from £4,912. This is similar to the allowances at neighbouring district councils and others in the region.
The independent report also recommended increasing the additional allowances Councillors receive for chairing and sitting on a number of committees. The biggest increase was £1,748 per year for the Chair of Planning Committee after the independent panel looked at the number of hours needed to carry out the role. This takes the allowance for the Chair of Planning Committee up to £6,360 per year.
The increase in basic member allowance agreed is the same percentage as the staff pay award increase for 2019/20. Councillors also agreed to link any future increase to any inflation increase in staff pay.
Following a request from the Combined Authority, the independent remuneration panel also recommended an additional allowance for South Cambridgeshire District Council’s Councillors who have additional roles on the Combined Authority board, scrutiny and audit committees. The panel also recommended an additional allowance for members who have roles on the Greater Cambridge Partnership board and assembly.
Councillors agreed these recommendations which brings them in line with the allowance provided for these roles at Cambridge City Council.
Councillors requested the independent remuneration panel look again at special responsibility allowance for the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and whether an allowance for Councillors on the Joint Development Control Committee is needed. Data collected suggested the allowance may need to increase to reflect the time commitment and responsibility.
Cllr Bridget Smith, Leader of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “The Council wants to make sure that we open up the role of being a Councillor to more people. To do this, we must have a basic allowance that compensates people for what can be a considerable commitment, so that anyone in full time employment, or a stay at home parent or carer for example, has the same opportunity as someone with less time constraints.
“The independent remuneration panel had a difficult job in balancing any increase with delivering a scheme that is affordable. At the elections last year, we reduced the number of Councillors representing communities from 57 to 45 so even with a 2% increase we will deliver around £60,000 in savings which will contribute toward the challenges we face each year balancing our books.”
All Councils are required to have an independent panel whose role is to make recommendations on Councillor allowances.
Twenty-two Councillors voted for the proposals; 12 against with four abstentions.
South Cambridgeshire is the second largest district in Cambridgeshire.