Changes to allowances for county councillors could save £88k

County Hall in Northampton
County Hall in Northampton

Recommendations for changes to allowances paid to county councillors which would result in an annual saving of more than £80k will be discussed at a meeting next Thursday (Sept 20).

A meeting of Northamptonshire County Council’s full council will discuss a report produced by an independent panel which recommends increasing the basic allowance paid to councillors while reducing the amount of funding for special responsibilities.

Councillors at Northamptonshire County Council currently receive a lower rate of basic allowance than councillors at any other county council in England.

The proposed changes would result in an annual saving of £88k and would bring Northamptonshire’s allowances closer to, though still below, the national average for county councils.

The report, from the Independent Panel for Councillors’ Allowances, states: “From May 2013, proposals approved by the Local Government Boundary Commission for England will reduce the number of councillors from 73 to 57, a reduction of some 28 per cent.

“The remaining 57 councillors will be responsible for serving a growing number of constituents. This will substantially increase the workload of ‘backbench’ councillors, something which the panel feel should be reflected in the new scheme of allowances.”

The report also recommends:

– A new allowance should be created for councillors who are members of the council’s fostering and adoption panels, in recognition of the time commitment required and the requirement to handle a large amount of sensitive and distressing information relating to individual cases

– The basic allowance should be indexed to the annual cost of living award for local government staff which for 2012-13 was zero per cent

– A reduction in both the number and value of special responsibility allowances

Under employment legislation, councillors who are employed are entitled to reasonable time off work to fulfil their role but there is no requirement for that to be paid leave. Therefore, councils allocate funding to bridge that gap.

The report is available on the council’s website.