Proposed increase in councillors’ expenses

West Paddock council offices
West Paddock council offices
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Members of South Ribble Council are set to discuss a proposal to increase their expenses for the first time in a decade.

Borough councillors in South Ribble, who are the lowest paid in Lancashire, will vote on whether to increase the amount they receive to cover out-of-pocket expenses by around £4.80 per week.

There are no plans to increase their basic or special responsibility allowances.

A vote on the issue is expected to take place at next Wednesday’s full council meeting (April 18), which will be held at the Civic Centre, in West Paddock, Leyland, starting at 6pm.

At the moment each borough councillor in South Ribble receives a basic allowance of £1,500 and an allowance of £100 per year.

Councillors who hold key roles, such as cabinet members or committee chairs, receive additional allowances to reflect the extra workload and responsibilities that these roles carry.

Details of all payments made to its members are published by the council each year.

The current proposal comes amid rising costs for councillors, four years after they decided not to accept an independent panel’s recommendation to increase their expenses and allowances.

Since their last increase to cover out-of-pocket expenses in 2002, rising costs have meant councillors paying out more and more to get around the borough and keep in touch with their residents.

If the proposal is accepted, members’ expenses will be increased with immediate effect from £100 to £350 per year.

The basic allowance of £1,500 a year and all special responsibility allowances will remain unchanged.

Coun Stephen Robinson, the council’s cabinet member with responsibility for Finance and Resources, said: “As a council we have the lowest allowances for members in Lancashire, and among the very lowest in the country.

“This will remain the case as there are no plans to increase basic or special responsibility allowances.

“Our councillors work very hard for the residents of South Ribble, and are excellent value for money.

“Since the last increase in our expenses in 2002, we’ve seen prices for the likes of fuel, stationery, telephone calls and stamps go up dramatically.

“New guidelines also mean that we must now take out business insurance when we use a vehicle on council duties.

“Our current level of expenses of less than £2 a week really doesn’t go very far.

“A rise of £250 a year would equate to around three litres of petrol or eight first class stamps a week for each member, so it still wouldn’t come close to meeting the costs associated with being a councillor.”

- What do you think? Email kay.taylor@lep.co.uk