Councillors vote themselves 20% rise
They will get a further 10% rise in 12 months
COUNCILLORS in Hinckley have voted to increase their pay by an inflation-busting 20 per cent next year, with a further 10 per cent increase 12 months later.
The hike has caused controversy not least because the Tory-run Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council last voted to increase the allowances paid to its 34 councillors by 22 per cent in 2015.
An independent remuneration panel made the recommendation to increase the basic allowance paid to politicians from £4,000 to £4,800 from April rising a further 10 per cent to £5,808 by 2020/21.
The panel said the increase would help bring the borough council’s allowances into line with those paid to members on similar authorities and ‘to ensure the allowances do not act as a barrier in encouraging councillors from underrepresented communities and groups.’
The same panel recommended the allowance paid to the council leader rise from £10,000 to £14,520 in 2020/21.
However councillor Mike Hall, the current leader, tabled a motion saying his pay should rise to £16,830 by 2020/21.
He will no longer be entitled to a second allowance for being a member of the council’s executive but he will get the basic allowance which he said should rise to £4,800 next year and then £5,280 the following year.
The Tory group also voted that councillors should get annual increases in allowances in line with council officers’ national pay awards from May 2020.
Coun Hall said: “It is always difficult for members to address the issue of their allowances.
“We need to get the base line right.
“Our councillors have comparatively low allowances. They do work hard, they often give up work time for council business.
“For the leader’s role I’ve said there will be one payment but it’s been merged with an executive role - effectively it’s £200 less while the leader of the opposition is getting a £700 pay rise.
“Last time we discussed this three years ago the Lib Dems made a big point of voting against the rise then they took the money anyway.
“I want to get away from the politics by linking allowances to staff pay increases.”
Cllr Hall said there were 15 Tory votes in favour of the increases while eight opposition Liberal Democrats and one Conservative voted against them. The authority’s only Labour member abstained.
The current allowances regime costs the Hinckley and Bosworth tax-payers £230,500 a year.
Under the proposals set out by the independent panel that cost would have risen rise by some £37,000 next year, £26,000 the year after and then £28,000 the following year.
Coun Hall said his proposals would work out some £27,000 less expensive than the panel’s proposals.
The council has confirmed the new scheme will cost a further £39,700 next year and £24,620 the year after.
Lib Dem deputy group leader Cllr David Bill said: “We voted against the increases.
“We took a view that at a time we are asking our staff to be restrained in their requests for an increase, it would be the wrong time to raise our own allowances.”
The council’s Unison representatives Robert Vaughan has written to Cllr Hall about the increase.
He said: “UNISON membership is absolutely astonished that this proposal for up to 30 per cent increase over two years could even be tabled.
“This of course is after huge increases awarded by yourselves in 2015, which were up to 50%.
“This was on the back of arguments which included the need for ‘the going rate for the job’ and the ‘need for equality with other councils’.
“How ironic that these same arguments put forward by UNISON to seek decent pay for loyal Local Government employees are rebuffed year after year, and on the grounds that they are unaffordable in times of restraint.”