Last night North Tyneside’s full council sat for the second time this month. Amidst a very busy agenda was one item sure to catch the attention of residents…
Item 7 was the report of the independent renumeration panel, the group that looks into how much elected councillors should receive as their annual “allowance”. This allowance is a recognition of the time incurred undertaking the duties of being a councillor, which is quite substantial. The payment is a bit like a salary, being disbursed monthly via the council’s payroll. It is taxable income, but councillors are not employees, so there’s no pension nor the other benefits that come with being an employee.
For some years now the councillor’s allowance has been index linked to the
annual pay award for the public sector. This year, given rampant inflation, the panel had recommended quite a substantial rise in the allowance, equivalent to over 7%. It was good of the panel to recognise that councillors are not immune from rises in the cost of living.
Ultimately however, myself and fellow councillors felt that we could not in good conscience accept the recommendation of the panel. Instead we thanked the chair of the panel for producing the report, but voted to reject it, choosing to freeze our allowances at their current level.
These are difficult times economically and we often hear politicians saying that means “difficult decisions” have to be made. Well this decision wasn’t actually difficult at all, it instinctively felt like the right thing to do. I’m really pleased that colleagues chose to show solidarity with residents who are struggling by not accepting a pay rise this year.
Photo credit: chandlervid85 via Freepik.com
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