Chesterfield councillors approve rise in allowances

Chesterfield Borough Council's HQ.
Chesterfield Borough Council's HQ.
  • Chesterfield borough councillors vote to increase their allowances
  • In total, the cash-strapped authority will spend an extra £86,000 on members’ allowances from April 2016
  • Independent panel says rise ‘recommends good value for money’
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Chesterfield councillors have voted to increase their allowances – after an independent report recommended a rise in how much they are paid.

Labour-led Chesterfield Borough Council – which needs to save £3.3million over a four-year period because of Tory Government cuts – will spend in total an extra £86,260 on members’ allowances from next April.

The changes are needed to encourage a wider section of the population, particularly people of working age and students, to be able to afford to take time off work or studies to carry out councillor duties

Councillor Sharon Blank, Chesterfield Borough Council

Among the changes, basic councillor allowances will increase from £4,421 to £5,880 a year.

Responsibility allowances for cabinet members with portfolios will rise from £6,101 to £7,626 a year, with assistant cabinet members’ allowances going from £3,050 to £3,812 a year.

A borough council spokesman said: “There has been a freeze on councillor allowances for six of the past eight years and no increases since 2013.

“Four of these occasions were due to public sector pay freezes, which also apply to councillor allowances, and twice where councillors voted not to accept the increases to which they were entitled.

“As is required by law, an independent panel has now carried out a fresh assessment of what allowances councillors should receive.”

A meeting of the full council last week voted to implement the panel’s recommendations.

Speaking at the meeting, Professor Steve Leach, who chaired the panel, said the increase was required “because of the need to recruit and retain good councillors to champion communities”.

He added that the rise “recommended good value for money”.

Councillor Sharon Blank, cabinet member for governance, said: “The independent panel has concluded the changes are needed to encourage a wider section of the population, particularly people of working age and students, to be able to afford to take time off work or studies to carry out councillor duties.

“They also found that current allowances are significantly lower than in similar sized councils.”

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of campaign group the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “At a time when council budgets are under enormous pressure, local politicians should be exercising restraint in their own allowances, not hiking them.

“Many hard-pressed families are facing pay cuts and pay freezes so they’ll feel even more hard done by to see their councillors giving themselves an early Christmas present.”

Special responsibility allowances for the leader, deputy leader and opposition leader will stay the same.

A special responsibility allowance for the deputy leader of the opposition will be removed but be reconsidered if the size of the opposition party increases significantly after future elections.

Those changes will save the council £8,684.