Winners and losers as county council slashes allowances budget

county councillors

County councillors voted through a new allowances scheme on Tuesday when they met at Littleport. - Credit: Archant

There are winners and losers but fundamentally an overall drop in the total paid in allowances to county councillors.  

The amount set aside for the 69 members of Cambridgeshire Council will be cut by six and a half per cent. 

Councillors agreed that the overall cost of members’ allowances will fall from £939,290 budgeted for at the start of the year to £878,269.  

The £61,021 savings follows a four yearly review by an independent panel.  

The panel included Nicky Blanning, a resident; Gerard Dempsey, business consultant and member of the judiciary and Jennifer Horn, company director.  

Also on the panel were Amanda Orchard, marketing consultant and magistrate and Mark Palmer, development director, South East Employers.  

The panel, chaired by Mr Palmer, say they based their recommendations on the view promoted by the Independent Councillor’s commission.  

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A policy to support parental leave for councillors was also agreed.  

The basic allowance paid to all members of Cambridgeshire County Council will be £10,568 per annum, up from, £10,315 per annum.  

The council also accepted a recommendation that no more than half the council – 30 members - should be eligible for additional ‘special responsibility allowances’ (SRAs) for bearing significant additional responsibilities at any one time.  

In addition, it no member can now receive more than one SRA even if they take on more than one of the identified offices the panel considered eligible for SRAs.  

Specific recommendation for amounts which should be paid in SRAs are also set out including:    

The leader to receive an SRA of 300 per cent of the basic allowance, £31,704.  

The deputy leader to receive an SRA of 65 per cent of the leader’s allowance, £20,608.  

The leader of the main opposition will receive an allowance of 33 per cent of the leader’s allowance - £10,462 and the current qualification for this allowance to be paid only when a group has twelve seats or more to be removed  

The leader of the minor opposition party and the Combined Authority board member will each receive an SRA of 10 per cent of the leader’s allowance, £3,170.  

The council chair will receive £10,462, 33 per cent of the leader’s allowance of £10,462.  

In addition, it was agreed that the policy and service committee chairs continue to receive an unchanged SRA of £18,372.  

The council has asked its constitution and ethics committee to consider the recommendations on parental leave.   

The panel says: “There is no legal right to parental leave of any kind for people in elected public office.  

“However, as a way of improving the diversity of councillors, the panel would recommend that the members’ allowance scheme should be amended to include provisions that clarify that.”  

It recommends that all councillors shall continue to receive their basic allowance in full for a period up to six months in the case of absence from their councillor duties due to leave related to maternity, paternity, adoption shared parental leave or sickness absence.