Wealden councillors’ allowances to go up but overall cost of scheme to fall when size of council is cut

Wealden District Council offices, Hailsham SUS-170401-214731008
Wealden District Council offices, Hailsham SUS-170401-214731008

Wealden District Council is to consider raising councillors’ pay by two per cent following recommendations from an independent panel.

Next month Wealden councillors are expected to vote on whether to raise their allowances in line recommendations from a independent allowances and remuneration panel.

If approved, however,  the pay rise would come as the number of elected members falls – from 55 to 45 at the May 2019 elections – seeing the overall taxpayer cost of councillors’ pay decrease.

The recommendations were given the backing of the council’s cabinet at a meeting on Wednesday (January 30).

Council leader Bob Standley said: “We should point out the increase in councillor allowances matches the increase in pay for staff.

“When there was a pay freeze on staff we froze our own allowances. I think the public should be aware of that as it is always an emotive subject.”

According to council papers, the reduction in councillor numbers following the May 2019 elections is expected to see the total cost of councillors’ pay  fall by around £35,000 in 2019/20.

A two per cent increase would see remaining councillors receive £4,611 per annum. Councillors currently receive £4,521 per annum. 

Special responsibility allowances – paid to cabinet members and committee chairmen – are also set to increase by two per cent.

The chairmen of Wealden’s two planning committees would see a three per cent increase. This is as the independent panel considered the number and length of planning meetings to place greater responsibility on them.  

A decision on the recommendations is set to be made at a full council meeting on February 20.