Councillors vote to freeze allowances for another year after recommendations for 2020
Councillors in County Durham have agreed to freeze their allowances for another year.
This week, council bosses discussed allowances for 2020/21 following a recommendation from an Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP).
Although proposals for a 1% rise were previously vetoed for 2019/20, no increases are planned for the coming financial year.
However, some suggestions were made to tweak next year’s scheme following consultation with elected members.
One comment called for a special responsibility allowance for cabinet support members.
Another noted the county council’s allowances are below the government’s living wage and called for a “re-evaluation of the hours councillors undertake.”
Despite this, the IRP recommended that no changes should be made, mainly due to lack of evidence.
Councillors signed off scheme at Wednesday’s (January 22) full council meeting after considering information from the IRP.
A council report reads: “As councillors were not employees of the council, it would not be appropriate to link the allowance they receive with the national living wage.
“The regulations relating to allowances set out that an allowance is intended to reflect a time commitment and was not a salary.
“There is no breach of employment legislation. Some councillors saw their role as full-time whereas others held jobs outside of the council.”
It has been around a decade since Durham County Council last increased allowances.
The IRP report noted the basic allowance – £13,300 per year – was higher than the average for North East councils
It added there was “no widespread call from councillors for an increase and no evidence that the level of allowances was deterring candidates standing as councillors.”