Sunderland councillors’ expenses slashed in half, figures show

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Councillors in Sunderland have been tightening their purse strings over the amount of expenses they’ve claimed.

During the last financial year the city’s councillors have more than halved their expenses claims.

In 20014/15, according to figures revealed by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, representatives made claims of £30,421 which will have been used to cover travel costs, hotel stays and meals.

This is down from the previous year’s £79,548 and from 2012/13’s £68,464.

In addition to expenses each councillor in Sunderland is entitled to a basic allowance rate £8,369 – a figure which has remained frozen in recent years.

Council leader Coun Paul Watson’s basic allowance stands at £37,677 and councillors who have additional roles are also eligible for additional allowances.

However, a councillor doesn’t have to accept the full amount.

A spokesman from Sunderland City Council said: “Councillors are entitled to certain allowances, based upon their role and responsibilities within the council and the community. The council has an independent remuneration panel that annually reviews allowances.

“There has been no increase in basic allowances since 2012 and individual councillor claims are published annually.”

Durham County Council has the highest rate of basic allowance at £13,300 per councillor, while Hartlepool Borough Council has the lowest at £5,825.

However, not all councils across the country have frozen their rates – or reduced them in recent years.

A total of £699million was paid out in allowances between 2012/13 and 2014/15

At least 238 councils raised the basic allowance, and 208 councils raised the total bill for allowances and expenses between 2012/13 and 2014/15.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It goes to show that not every council has prioritised finding savings, or cutting taxes over awarding local politicians above inflation allowances.

“With the nation’s finances yet to be fixed, councillors across the country will continue to have to make difficult decisions. In order for them to have the moral authority to carry out that very important job, councillors must show restraint when it comes to their own taxpayer-funded allowances and ease the burden on hard-pressed families.”