Halt councillor's allowance rise in Northampton says opposition leader - money could go to the most in need

Calls are being made to a halt a planned pay-rise for councillors in Northampton, just weeks after the authority slashed the amount of tax help the town's poorest could receive.

Monday, 6th March 2017, 5:38 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:09 am
Councillor Danielle Stone says the proposed increase in the allowance given to elected members on the borough council is ill-timed, given a recent cut in a support scheme for the town's lowest earners.

On Monday night Northampton Borough Council will be asked to approve a proposed one per cent increase to the elected members' allowance alongside rises to the various cabinet members and committee chairs.

The chairman of the audit committee, Councillor Mary Markham, is being proposed a five per cent rise which will see her allowance increase to £4,306 from £3,408.

The chairman of the standards committee, Councillor Suresh Patel, is set to receive a £554 year-on-year boost.

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In total the move will cost the council an extra £6,789.30 in the 2017/18 financial year.

But the leader of the opposition Labour group has called on members to vote down the recommended rise, proposed by an independent "remuneration committee."

Councillor Danielle Stone, (Lab, Castle) said: “Freezing councillor allowances for a further two years would mean £13,578.60 being spent on other things like helping to pay for a freeze in the council tax reduction scheme."

At the end of February the borough council voted to approve cutting the amount the poorest in the town received off their council tax bill.

Whereas the council's lowest earners currently pay 29 per cent of their tax bill, from April they will pay 35 per cent, in a move that will save the authority £252,000 a year.

Councillor Brandon Eldred, cabinet member for finance, said the funding that supported the council tax reduction scheme was "diminishing each year."

Councillor allowances have been frozen since May 2011, but the report recommends linking allowance increases to borough staff levels.

A spokeswoman for Northampton Borough Council, said:“We are obliged by law to review the allowances of councillors periodically. This is the first full review of Northampton’s councillor allowances since 2008.

“An independent remuneration panel has put forward their recommendations and it is now down to councillors to decide how to respond when the council meets next week.”

The Labour group gave a manifesto pledge to freeze councillor allowances until May 2019 and is likely to vote against the remuneration panel's recommendations.

The panel was chaired by John Cade, who is a member of the institute of the Institute of Local Government Studies at the University of Birmingham. Mr Cade also chairs a number of other remuneration panels across the country.