On Tuesday next week, members of Cambridgeshire County Council will be considering a report into councillors’ allowances that recommends some substantial increases. The report has been produced by an independent panel, and runs to over 13,000 words and 38 pages. While it is packed with data, it is disappointingly light on graphs. So let’s see what we can do about that.
The headline news is that some hefty increases are being recommended. Here are some of the main ones:
All councillors receive the Basic Allowance. The proposals would increase this from £7,610 to £9,500, an increase of 25%. Some councillors also receive an additional Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs). The largest of these, for the Council leader, would increase even more, by 28%, to £28,500. The Deputy Leader doesn’t do so well, but cabinet portfolio holders and chairs of the overview and scrutiny committees also see substantial rises.
The story is rather different, however, for opposition councillors. While they would receive the same increase in the Basic Allowance, there would be some significant cuts in other opposition allowances:
At present, the main opposition group on the council is the Liberal Democrats, with 21 councillors; the minority opposition groups are Labour, with 3 councillors, UKIP and the Greens, with one each, and two independents. The proposals are not so kind to them. The main opposition group leader’s allowance would be almost unchanged, but their deputy leader would get a 33% cut, and their group spokespersons a 14% cut. Things are even worse for the minority opposition group; as well as a cut for their leader, the allowances for their deputy leader and spokespersons would be abolished altogether.
To put this in context, here is the current political makeup of the council:
It’s worth noting that there is a substantial difference between councillors elected by Cambridge, compared with the rest of the county. None of the 41 Conservative councillors represent the city.
The current Council Leader, Nick Clarke, has already blogged about councillor allowances, in an article which could be read as supporting an increase. However, he did indicate that Conservative councillors will have a free vote on the proposals. It will be interesting to see what they make of them.
Update: Fixed the number of Labour councillors. Thanks to George Owers for pointing out this error. Also fixed the council composition graphs which were slightly wrong.