Cut Sunderland councillors’ allowances and save £250,000 say Lib Dems

Liberal Democrat campaigner Martin Haswell
Liberal Democrat campaigner Martin Haswell

A cash cut for councillors has been proposed to ease the strain on the city’s purse strings by hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Sunderland’s Liberal Democrats have repeated long-held concerns about the number of Labour members on Sunderland City Council in receipt of Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs).

By merely reducing the amount in line with other councils in the region, we could save £100,000s – money that could be better spent on services for residents.

Martin Haswell

They say more than 80% of its 74 councillors receive a SRA, including the acting leader of the council, cabinet members as well as the mayor, their deputy, committee chairmen and deputy holders of cabinet-level portfolios.

It says as the party in control, the Labour group allocates these additional allowances – some running into tens of thousands of pounds.

The Lib Dems have asked the Independent Renumeration Panel for an investigation into the issue and wants to see more cash going into services for residents.

They have proposed an overall reduction of £250,000 in allowances, a cap on the number receiving SRAs at no more than 25, the removal of SRAs given to deputy cabinet members, committee chairmen, mayor and deputy mayor and the removal of travel expenses, except where they relate to trips outside Sunderland.

Party campaigner Martin Haswell said: “Despite having the power to reduce expenses and allowances, the Labour-run council has for decades shamefully refused to do so.”

Cabinet Secretary Coun Mel Speding said: “This is a typical distraction tactic used by local Lib Dems, whose leader, having been caught with both hands in the cookie jar, (gorging himself at a council event on Danish pastries and seeking a 75% rise in his allowances), now suggest that the allowance to deputy cabinet members, committee chairs, the mayor and deputy mayor should be removed.

He added that the Lib Dem proposal “fails to recognise the valuable role played by deputy cabinet members and committee chairs.”