County councillors set for another hike in allowances after awarding themselves 10.5pc rise
PUBLISHED: 16:15 11 May 2018 | UPDATED: 16:15 11 May 2018
Opposition councillors have said they are "furious" after discovering a fresh hike in their allowances just months after Norfolk County Councillors voted to give themselves a pay rise of more than 10pc.
Changes to the council constitution - circulated this week - revealed councillors would be receiving another 2pc rise in allowances from April 1.
They will benefit from the staff pay award for council workers which was announced on December 5, just five days before councillors voted by 39 votes to 26 against to award themselves an 10.5pc rise, against advice from an independent remuneration panel.
It meant members’ allowances rose from £9,401 to £10,500, backdated to May 2017.
The latest rise comes from the automatic annual index-linked increase in line with the staff pay award. It has been 1pc in recent years but is 2pc this year and will be 2pc next year.
It equates to roughly £188 per member, at an annual cost of more than £15,000.
It adds £549.90 to Cliff Jordan’s special responsibility allowance, and £274.94 for the chairs of adult social care and children’s services committees.
Labour’s Emma Corlett said the move was “outrageous” given Conservatives “would have known at the time which direction the wind was blowing”.
“They deliberately massively inflated their allowances before this 2pc rise was due to come in,” she said.
“Nobody should get more than the public sector workers are getting. It sits uneasily with me given council tax is going up by 6pc and services are being cut.”
The pay rise comes as the council is looking to plug a £125m funding gap by 2021/22.
Labour leader Steve Morphew added: “It is extraordinary the administration has let this happen without referring it back to members.
“I will take it up with policy and resources to see, if we can’t lose this year’s increase, at the very least waive next year’s increase. It just feels cynical at every level. They dreamt up the last hike and brought it to council, they could equally dream up not taking this one.
“If nothing else it is about showing a degree of integrity - this is dragging all councillors down.”
Liberal Democrat leader Dan Roper added: “You would expect for the reputation of the council the 2pc this year would be deferred and not acted upon.
“Ultimately this is another £20,000 being paid from the tax payer to their elected representatives. I do not think anyone would say that is justified in performance terms. I think it is an insult to members of staff and to the public.
“At a time when council tax bills are going up it is damaging to the council if it is perceived councillors are taking home more money for providing less and charging residents more.
“I personally won’t be looking to keep it.”
Council leader Cliff Jordan and deputy Alison Thomas were both unavailable for comment.
A county council spokesman said: “The members allowances scheme includes provision that there will be an annual increase, in line with the national pay award to local government staff.
“The latest pay award is two per cent and that will be the increase for councillors this year.”