Sunderland’s councillors agree to freeze their allowances for next year

Sunderland City Council's headquarters at the Civic Centre.
Sunderland City Council's headquarters at the Civic Centre.

Councillors have agreed to freeze their allowances for the next 12 months – despite opposition calls for a reduction.

Sunderland City Council’s lead members accepted figures from the Independent Remuneration Panel for the 2018/19 financial year.

Councillor Mel Speding.

Councillor Mel Speding.

It will see the leader of the authority given an allowance of £37,667.

That is Councillor Harry Trueman, who was elected earlier this month until the leading Labour group meets after the May election.

His deputy, Councillor Michael Mordey and cabinet secretary Councillor Mel Speding, will receive £25,111, with cabinet members awarded £20,716.

Those in top positions within the opposition parties also get allowances.

Lib Dem Councillor Niall Hodson.

Lib Dem Councillor Niall Hodson.

Leader of the majority in opposition Conservative Councillor Robert Oliver is entitled to £12,556, while the leader of the minority party in opposition Liberal Democrat, Councillor Niall Hodson, can claim £6,277.

The basic councillor allowance stands at £8,369.

Coun Hodson and his party say they have called on a reduction in Special Responsibility Allowances of £273,000, but were voted down.

Coun Speding told the cabinet: “I understand there has not been a rise accepted for the last six years and it is clear that the Independent Remuneration Panel, which comprises of three independent people, considered members’ allowances, as they council is appraised to do.

“The panel is there for everybody and representations can be made.

“It’s independent, but some want to use it for political means at this time of year.”

Coun Hodson told the Echo: “Public services have been stripped back left, right and centre in this city.

“Labour councillors frequently promise to protect our public services from austerity at the national level, but what do they actually do about it?

“Nothing.”

In a report to cabinet, the panel said during its review it was asked to consider “across the board” reductions in allowances.

No rises were made to travel or away from home meal expenses.

It said: “While it is not the role of the panel to make decisions on the level of budget allocated to allowances by the council, on this occasion, there is no recommendation to increase any of the allowances.”

A full list of the allowances can be found via https://goo.gl/ap4wif.