'˜Tea allowance' for councillors to be abolished

Basic allowances paid to West Sussex county councillors is set to rise from next year.

West Sussex County Council SUS-160531-124255001
West Sussex County Council SUS-160531-124255001

An independent remuneration panel is proposing an increase from £11,251 a year to £11,414, which is roughly in line with inflation, and a number of changes to special responsibility allowances (SRAs) paid to cabinet members, chairs of committees, and senior advisors.

Currently councillors can claim 49.26p per mile for travel expenses when using their own vehicle, but the IRP is suggesting the county council adopts the HMRC published mileage rate for cars, which is 45p per mile. For motorcycles it would be 24p a mile and 20p per mile for private bicycles.

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The entire package of measures is set to reduce overall expenses costs by around £30,000 to a total of around £1.1m a year.

The changes are due to be discussed by WSCC’s Governance Committee on Tuesday November 29, and if agreed by all councillors next month would be implemented from May 2017.

The tea allowance of £3.41 is due to be abolished as it is rarely claimed, but breakfast, lunch, and evening meal allowances can still be claimed by county councillors for absences away from a county councillor’s ‘usual place of residence’.

As part of the proposals, the SRA for the chairman of the council is set to be reduced from £28,297 to £18,840 a year and down from £8,935 to £7,826 for the vice-chairman.

The SRA for the leader of the council is due to increase from £31,362 to £31,664, while the cabinet member for community wellbeing and deputy leader will receive an extra £80 a year, up to £22,798.

Previously other cabinet members were paid £19,506 but they are now set to receive £20,265.

The IRP began its work in December 2015 and met 14 times up until October 2016.

Its report concludes: “Compared to current allowances, the expected impact of the proposed allowances would be expected to cost £1,147,316, a 2.9 per cent reduction against the present cost of allowances.

“This expected cost includes the expected reduction from 71 members to 70 as part of the boundary review. The panel recognises that the number of members receiving special responsibility allowances can vary and may be different after the election, so this expected impact is based on the current numbers of members in these posts.”

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