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Councillors cost each one of us £3.15
Councillors in Brighton and Hove cost the taxpayer more than £865,000 in the last year.
Official figures show that the 54 elected members on Brighton and Hove City Council claimed a total of £865,357.02 for the 2012/13 financial year. This works out at about £3.15 for each of the city’s 275,000 residents.
Councillors defended the total sum, which included basic allowances, travel claims and childcare costs, adding the amount was in line with other areas.
Some even asked if the whole system should be revamped with fewer councillors earning more.
Council leader Jason Kitcat claimed the most, receiving a total of £39,179.34. His wife and fellow Regency ward councillor Ania Kitcat also claimed £1,700 in childcare allowances. Combined, this put them over the £1,200 limit for claims for a single councillor.
Coun Kitcat was yesterday unavailable for comment.
Speaking about the subject previously, Coun Kitcat said: “Our allowances are recommended by an independent panel and are very much in line with similar unitary authorities elsewhere such as Bristol, Cardiff or Southampton.
“To attract and retain the best councillor candidates we need to offer decent recompense for the time they spend serving our city. When compared to local councillors in other countries, England has very low levels of allowances which raises questions over what value we, as a society, place on local democracy.”
The total amount includes a basic payment to all councillors of £11,463.
Those with special responsibilities, such as group leaders or chairman of committees, receive an additional sum.
Only four councillors – the two Kitcats, Ruth Buckley and Pete West – claimed carer costs.
Conservative councillor Geoffrey Theobald said: “From my point of view 54 councillors for 275,000 people is not excessive.
“That means what is paid out will compare favourably with other areas with more councillors for a lower population.”
Independent councillor Christina Summers said: “Personally I think the whole system is wrong. Our responsibilities are enormous. We are expected to manage a whole city with depleting resources and I think councillors’ pay should reflect that.
“There should be fewer councillors, all full-time, all politically independent and on a far more appropriate income.”
A council spokesperson said: “Councillor allowances are recommended by an Independent Remuneration Panel and agreed by Full Council. In recognition that money is tight for everyone in the current climate these have not increased for the past two years and are unlikely to change in the coming year.
“Allowances are just that – they are not a salary – and many councillors of working age hold down regular jobs as well as fulfilling their civic duties.”
Labour councillor Gill Mitchell said: “Iamsurprised to see that both Councillors Ania and Jason Kitcat are claiming a childcare allowance for their children.
“If a couple with young children both want to stand as councillors then I think it is not unreasonable for only one partner to be paid the allowance and for them to manage their childcare duties between them.”
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