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Independent panel findings on councillor allowances implemented

close-up of woodwork in council chamber

The findings of an independent panel on councillor allowances at Chesterfield Borough Council are to be implemented.

There has been a freeze on councillor allowances for six of the past eight years and no increases since 2013. 

Four of these occasions were due to public sector pay freezes, which also apply to councillor allowances, and twice where councillors voted not to accept the increases to which they were entitled.

As is required by law, an independent panel has now carried out a fresh assessment of what allowances councillors should receive. 

Among the changes, they have recommended that:

  • basic councillor allowances should increase from £4,421 to £5,880 a year 
  • special responsibility allowances for the leader, deputy leader and leader of the opposition should stay the same
  • responsibility allowances for cabinet members with portfolios should increase from £6,101 to £7,626 a year, with assistant cabinet members' allowances going from £3,050 to £3,812 a year 
  • a special responsibility allowance for the deputy leader of the opposition should be removed but be reconsidered if the size of the opposition party increases significantly after future elections.

Speaking at the council meeting, Professor Steve Leach, who chaired the independent panel, commented on how the increase in allowances was required because of the need to recruit and retain good councillors to champion local communities and that the increase recommended represented good value for money.

Councillor Sharon Blank, cabinet member for governance, said: "The independent panel has concluded the changes are needed to encourage a wider section of the population, particularly people of working age and students, to be able to afford to take time off work or studies to carry out councillor duties. 

"They also found that current allowances are significantly lower than in similar sized councils."

The full council has voted to implement the recommendations made by the independent panel from April 2016.

First published on 22 December 2015 Last updated on 31 October 2016