£1.2m bill as council allowances increase

County Hall, Preston

County Hall, Preston

  • Taxpayers are set to fork out more than £1.2m in allowances for county councillors
  • Members have voted themselves a 2.2 per cent rise in allowances
  • Branded a “cost of living increase”
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Taxpayers are set to fork out more than £1.2m in allowances for county councillors over the coming year.

Members have voted themselves a 2.2 per cent rise in allowances – branded a “cost of living increase”.

Coun Geoff Driver

Coun Geoff Driver

It will cost County Hall an extra £26,894 during the 2015/16 financial year – compared to the previous year – an increase which comes into effect this month.

And that does not include travelling expenses and overnight accommodation which may be accrued by members while away on council business throughout the year.

It comes despite the county council already hitting residents with a two per cent council tax increase and warning of deep cuts because of Government spending reduction targets.

The new higher rates, which match the pay increase given to county council staff this year, were narrowly voted through by 39-31 with six abstentions at a full council meeting

It is unjustified in the current financial circumstances

Tory opposition leader Coun Geoff Driver, whose own allowances will rise almost £600, called for a freeze in the rates given the current climate facing the county council.

He said: “This council agreed to increase council tax and to make some savage cuts to services provided to the people of Lancashire.

“The Conservative group cannot support this (allowance increase).

“It is unjustified in the present financial circumstances and how the cuts you (the Labour group) have made have impacted on the people of Lancashire.”

But Labour’s deputy leader Coun David Borrow said the rise was an “appropriate” one and added that while politicians did not like voting on their own pay and conditions, it was important to keep the link with staff pay, or allowances would fall so far behind that only the wealthy could afford to do the job.

“The county council, in line with many other councils, have that link between what staff get and what members get,” he added.

“The problem is when you interfere with that you end up going years and years and years without any increase.”

Figures released by County Hall show each of the 84 members of the council will now get a basic allowance of £10,362, totalling £870,408.

On top of that, members with special responsibility like party leaders, cabinet members, chairs and deputy chairs get additional sums – costing an extra £352,052.

Those allowances range from £29,590 for council leader Jennifer Mein, £20,713 for deputy Borrow, £16,274 for Coun Driver and £16,274 each for six cabinet members.