An independent panel that annually reviews allowances for councillors is recommending payments for members of North Yorkshire Council to reflect their significantly increased workload.
Members of the panel are recruited from members of the public who volunteer their services, so are independent of the council, its members and officers.
The proposed rates of both basic and special responsibility allowances for 2024/25 would see councillors paid at a level similar to comparable unitary councils, such as Leeds, Cornwall and Birmingham.
Members of North Yorkshire Council’s executive will consider the panel’s proposals on Tuesday, 7 November 2023, before the panel’s recommendations go to the full council for a decision at its meeting on Wednesday, November 15.
If the proposals are approved, the basic allowance for a member of North Yorkshire Council will be set at £17,000 in 2024/25. Currently, the basic allowance is £15,500. Special responsibility allowances will be increased by two per cent.
The chair of the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP), Keith Trotter, said:
Councillors volunteer for their roles. They are not employees and are not paid at a commercial rate for their time. However, the allowances should not be set at a level which acts as a disincentive to conscientious performance of duties, or which does not reflect the considerable time commitment required for the role.
Setting a fair and proportionate basic allowance and special responsibility allowance that reflects the workload of councillors in the newly established council has been a complex task. The allowances paid in similar local authorities have been reviewed and inflation, cost of living pressures and public sector pay rises have also been taken into account, as have submissions from councillors themselves about their current and future workload.
The proposed £1,500 increase in the annual basic allowance from £15,500 to £17,000 will result in an increase in the total annual amount paid of £135,000.
The proposed two per cent increase in the special responsibility allowances paid, with the exception of sessional payments to chairs of the licensing sub-committees, will result in an increase in the total annual amount paid of £10,514.
In total, the proposed increases to allowances are £145,514 for 2024/25.
Mr Trotter said:
I acknowledge that in absolute terms this may be seen as an increase in payments to councillors, but it is important to note that the increased burden upon councillors as work previously undertaken by 319 councillors is now undertaken by 90. This increase is also in the context of savings of £714,621 made in 2023/24 and in being 0.01 per cent of the overall council budget of £1.4 billion.
The leader of North Yorkshire Council, Cllr Carl Les, said:
Thank you to the panel for its independent, considered appraisal of this issue. The level at which allowances are set should not be a barrier that could prevent anyone from standing as a councillor, regardless of such things as age, personal circumstances and employment.
It will be up to each councillor to decide, at the full council meeting in November, whether to take all, some or none of the proposed allowances.
North Yorkshire Council was created on April 1 this year to replace the eight county, borough and district councils in the biggest reorganisation of local government in the county since 1974.