Brighton and Hove councillors turn down allowances rise

The Argus: Brighton and Hove councillors turn down allowances rise Brighton and Hove councillors turn down allowances rise

Brighton and Hove councillors are set to throw out independent recommendations and reject a planned rise to allowances.

After two years of no increases to member's allowances, an independent panel has recommended Brighton and Hove City Council's 54 politicians receive an extra one per cent for 2014/15.

This rise, in line with public sector workers across the country, would take their basic allowance to £11,578.

However, as it looks to make savings of £22.5 million from its 2014/15 budget, councillors are set to unite and reject the proposal, which would cost the taxpayer an extra £10,000 a year.

Council leader and Green convenor Jason Kitcat said: “While we respect the recommendations of the independent panel, we don't feel it's right in this economic climate for councillors to receive an increase in allowances, so we're proposing that they are frozen for the coming year.”

All 54 councillors currently receive a basic allowance of £11,460 with additional sums granted to those who hold special responsibilities, such as committee chairman and opposition group leaders.

There are also small sums available to cover transport and childcare costs.

In 2012/13, councillors cost the taxpayer about £865,000.

An independent panel recommended the increase be introduced from May.

However, councillors of all parties look set to back an amendment to freeze the allowance for the coming year.

However, they will agree to a full review of the system will take place over the next ten months.

The aim is to have a revised scheme in place from May 2015, in time for the next local elections.

Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald said: “We have taken the view that we should play our part in keeping costs for council taxpayers down as far as possible and so we felt it would be inappropriate to accept the proposed increase in the basic allowance.”

Labour group leader Warren Morgan said: “The individual remuneration panel has recognised councillors need to be paid for the job that they do, without that decisions will be made by councillors who are retired or wealthy, not by councillors representative of the community.

“However it is difficult to justify increasing the money paid to councillors at a time where the council is facing Tory cuts of £23 million per year.”

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