The recommendations of an independent review into East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) councillors’ allowances have been approved at last week’s full council meeting.
The report by the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) recommended that special responsibility allowances should be created for councillors with additional responsibilities who represent the council at combined authority level.
The full council meeting also agreed to the recommendation to increase the allowances given to councillors that have ECDC special responsibilities, such as committee chairmans.
The current IRP was originally appointed in July 2016 to undertake a review into councillors’ allowances as required by statute. The panel was reconvened by full council on 21st February 2019 specifically to consider the remuneration of the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Council. This review was extended to include a request by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) for member authorities to consider payment of allowances to their representatives on the combined authority’s board and committees.
The review recommended special responsibility allowances of £5,000 per year for the CAPCA board member, £1,500 per year for the CAPCA deputy board member and £1,500 per year for the CAPCA overview and scrutiny committee member. The panel also recommended £800 per year for the CAPCA audit and governance committee member and the executive committee member.
Chairman of the IRP, Richard Tyler, said: “These are significant new roles for the leader, deputy leader and other councillors. This was determined by examining the amount of time commitment, complexity, high worth, high profile and far-reaching nature of the decisions, projects, and policies that the combined authority is responsible for.
“It was apparent that there is a high level of additional commitment which is expected on top of the normal ‘day job’ of a councillor. “
During the review which commenced in June, both political group leaders agreed to widen the review further to a full review of councillors’ allowances following the recent elections in May and changes to the ECDC’s committee structure. The recommendations from the review were presented at October’s full council meeting and supersedes convening another IRP in 2020, which would have been required by statute.
Commenting on the allowance suggestions for those with additional ECDC responsibilities, Richard Tyler said: “Based on the National Living Wage currently set at £8.21 per hour, councillors are barely achieving the minimum wage for the level of time that they are spending on their duties, for the complex, high profile and sensitive roles that they are undertaking. The special responsibility allowances at East Cambs are lower than councils compared locally, regionally and nationally. The suggested increases will bring the allowances more in line with other councils and better reflect the additional level of responsibilities and time commitment involved.”
Full details with rationale of the increases can be found on the ECDC website: https://www.eastcambs.gov.uk/sites/default/files/agendas/171019%20IRP%20Report%20App%20A.pdf
The review of allowances included interviews with the ECDC councillors, liaising with constituent councils and a questionnaire sent to all councillors.
The IRP that completed the review were Richard Tyler (Chairman), Richard Powell, Stanley Curtis and Margaret Clark.