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North Yorkshire councillors to vote on pay increase
7:50am Wednesday 19th February 2014 in News
Councillors in North Yorkshire are due to vote themselves a pay rise today – costing hard-pressed charge payers an extra £10,000 a year.
But the expenses increase will be accompanied by new guidelines for members following concern over so-called “double dipping”.
It has also been revealed by an audit that some councillors are not following rules such as keeping proper receipts.
An independent panel of North Yorkshire County Council is recommending a one per cent increase to councillors’ basic allowances, costing £7,400 more a year.
Panel members are also urging the authority to increase top-up payments to members with extra responsibilities by one per cent, costing a further £2,600.
The cost to the public purse may not stop there.
A further review of Special Responsibility Payments, such as overseeing the work of Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan, is recommended for 2015/16. Although the increases are modest, the overall sums are regarded as eye-watering by campaigners.
For example, the bill for having a councillor chair Ms Mulligan’s police and crime meetings will rise from £4,632 a year to £4,680 – a monthly rise from £386 to £390.
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is quite a hefty sum of money just for a councillor to attend a few extra meetings. PCCs are scrutinised by voters at election time, it really shouldn't cost that much extra for them to take questions from councillors.
The recommendations have been recommended for approval today by county chief executive Richard Flinton. He argued the increase was in line with a recent pay rise awarded to rank and file council staff.
He also maintained the allowances paid to elected members in North Yorkshire compared quite poorly to those received in other parts of the UK.
Mr Flinton underlined the allowance had remained unchanged since 2009/10 and belts had already been tightened.
He added: “The financial impact should be viewed in the context of the overall Members Services and Chairman’s Fund budgets having been reduced by a total of £100k from 2013/14, contributing to the council’s savings requirements.”
Many members of the county council are also members of district councils and other authorities.
Panel chairman, Denise Wilson, said: “There has been a significant amount of public interest in the payment of allowances to dual-hatted members.”
“In the circumstances, it is recommended that the guidance provided to members in relation to the claiming of and payment of allowances should be reviewed.”