Just 9pc of people agree with Norfolk councillors’ decision to award themselves a pay rise, our online poll shows
PUBLISHED: 11:10 14 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:10 14 December 2017
Archant Norfolk 2017
Fewer than one in 10 people agree with a controversial decision by Norfolk councillors to award themselves a pay rise at a time when they are cutting public services.
Indeed, the majority of the 1,300 people who took part in this newspaper’s online poll - 51pc - believe those serving on Norfolk County Council should actually have had their basic allowance reduced.
Conservative councillors, apart from a few exceptions of those who voted against their own party, caused outrage amongst many when they voted to give themselves a £1,099 increase in their annual allowance, backdated to May this year.
Conservative leader Cliff Jordan also recommended that the chairmen of adult social care and children’s services committees should get an increase from £13,747 to £15,809, given their responsibilities.
An independent panel had recommended that their pay be frozen at £9,401 as it was “mindful” of budget cuts being made elsewhere, such as to bus subsidies.
40pc of people who took our online poll agreed with that decision, with just 9pc of people saying they should get an increase.
But Mr Jordan recommended the basic allowance should increase to £10,500 and that his own special responsibility allowance as leader should go up to £31,700, from £27,495.
Collectively, the money amounts to £142,000 per year, although Mr Jordan has now said he will not take his allowance increase.
Mr Jordan argued that Norfolk county councillors were “not well paid” and that some could not afford to travel around their divisions to represent their constituents.
“If we want younger people to come into politics, we need to remunerate them properly,” he said.
But the increase - which was passed by 39 votes to 26, with two abstentions - caused an outcry, with Labour opposition leader Steve Morphew saying it was “dirty money” and that he was “speechless” it had been proposed at a time when vulnerable people face cuts to services.
MORE: Which Norfolk county councillors voted to increase their allowances?
Liberal Democrat leader Dan Roper said he was “aghast” at the proposal - which his group voted against, along with Labour.
The public has also reacted with anger, with Peter Waller calling it “disgraceful and immoral” on this newspaper’s website and Nigel Harper saying it was “an unbelievable two fingers up to us council tax payers”.
Michael Uwins, also commenting on our website, added: “This boost to their expenses follows massive, blundering overspending and ruthless cuts to essential public services.
“Those councillors that voted for this selfish increase are a disgrace and I hope that the voting public have taken note.”
Why do councillors get allowances and what are they going up by?
Councillors do not get a salary, but they do receive allowances in recognition of the work which they do to serve their communities.
All Norfolk County Councillors are entitled to a basic allowance, which was £9,401 for 2017/18 and will now go up to £10,500 – an increase of 11pc.
Councillors with special responsibilities, such as leader of the council or chair of one of the council’s committees get an extra amount – a special responsibility allowance.
As leader, Cliff Jordan was entitled to £27,495, but that has now increased to £31,700. That is an increase of 15pc.
Service committee chairmen were entitled to £13,747, but that has been increased to £15,809 for the chairs of adult social care and children’s service, in recognition of the scale of their responsibilities.
Councillors are also entitled to travel allowances and subsistence rates, although the latter can only be claimed in “exceptional circumstances”.