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NEW SCHEME: Councillors will get a pay rise of almost £3,000 next year

NEW SCHEME: Councillors will get a pay rise of almost £3,000 next year

Salford Civic Centre, Image: Google Maps

Some councillors in Salford are in store for a pay rise this year.

Elected members approved a new scheme of allowances at a council meeting on Wednesday (November 17) which will be backdated to April 1, 2021.

It comes after recommendations were made by an independent remuneration panel which consists of four people who are ‘prominent in public life’ in Salford.

The panel recommended that vice-chairs of five scrutiny committees receive an extra £2,967 a year – a third of the allowance awarded to chairs of scrutiny.

Lead members in the cabinet would also have had a pay rise of £406 a year if the recommendations were fully accepted – but Labour rejected this increase.

The ruling group accepted the recommendation that basic allowances for all councillors should be frozen alongside the city mayor and his deputies’ pay.

However, councillors voted for the additional allowances for scrutiny panel vice-chairs to be extended to those of the planning and licensing panels too.

The increase in allowances will come at a total cost of £23,736 to the council.

Labour councillor Damian Bailey explained why the ruling group accepted some of the recommendations which were made by the panel, but not others.

He said: “It cannot be right to highlight the work of some vice-chairs and not others.

“But now is not the time to increase the allowances of those who receive a reasonable package for the work they do.

“I can’t come here in good faith and say lead members need more than they currently have.”

The basic allowance which all councillors in Salford can claim is £11,346 a year, but the five lead members on the cabinet receive £25,991 in total annually.

The city’s directly-elected mayor Paul Dennett currently receives around £67,000 a year, and his two deputies are paid around £33,000 each.

Councillors who chair scrutiny committees receive £20,257 and this allowance is the same for chairs of the planning, licensing and audit and accounts panels.

However, vice-chairs of these committees do not currently receive a special responsibility allowance despite acting as deputies for chairs of these panels.

Labour councillors argued that all vice-chairs should be treated equally.

But Conservative group leader Les Turner said the Tories could not support any increase in allowances for councillors, saying: “this is not the right time”.

He said: “We are putting more expense on the public at a very difficult time – probably the worst time to do such a thing – merrily going along to ask to support an increase for vice-chairs over and above the recommendation.”

The Conservatives did not support the amendments proposed by the Labour group, while the council’s only Lib Dem councillor abstained from the vote.

Speaking after the vote, a Labour spokesperson defended the decision.

He said: “The basic Councillor pay in Salford is £11,346. For this allowance, residents quite rightly expect a full time job of work from their elected representatives meaning this is the primary income many live off.

“Democratic scrutiny is hugely important in a democracy and many of the vice-chairs of scrutiny perform quasi-judicial functions requiring huge amounts of preparation and research.

“As it currently stands, these responsibilities go without any remuneration and to be frank we believe that is not good for the democratic scrutiny of council decisions.

“We stand by the decision taken today, as well as our decision to reject the proposed increases for lead members.”

 

Words: Joseph Timan, Local Democracy Reporter


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