Inflation-busting rises on the way for leading Suffolk councillors
PUBLISHED: 09:42 21 July 2017 | UPDATED: 09:57 21 July 2017
Cabinet members at Suffolk County Council are to get above-inflation rises in their allowances after members of the authority backed a new payment scheme.
The new allowances scheme will see leader Colin Noble’s total allowances go up by more than 15pc – from just under £36,000 to £41,500 – next April.
Cabinet members would see their allowances go up from a total of £25,700 to £28,500, a rise of 11pc.
Backbench councillors would see their allowances go up in line with county council workers’ increases – which are currently pegged at a maximum of 1pc.
However because of reductions in the number of committee chairs and other special responsibility allowances paid to councillors, the total amount paid by the council in allowances would remain unchanged.
The changes were recommended by an independent panel made up of former chief executive Dame Lin Homer, outgoing chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership Mark Pendlington, the chief executive of Adnams Andy Wood and chaired by Sandra Cox who has led many such panels in the region.
Ms Cox said the panel felt that while councillors’ basic allowances were in line with other similar authorities, the special responsibility payments to cabinet members was lower in Suffolk.
Cabinet member for finance Richard Smith insisted the recommendations had not come from the council, but from an independent panel and it was right to accept their advice.
He said the fact that it would not cost any more to implement was an important factor.
Opposition leader Sandra Gage said it was not setting a good example for the senior councillors to be accepting such a large increase at a time when staff were suffering from the results of the government-imposed pay cap.
There was irritation among some backbench Conservative councillors that a three-line whip had been imposed to ensure they voted in favour of the changes – that did not stop some abstaining in the vote.
Council leader Colin Noble said he would be in favour of the council simply accepting the recommendations of the independent panel: “We ask them to come up with proposals, and that would mean we are not involved with setting our pay levels,” he said.
Final result: 40 for the increase, 21 against with eight abstentions.