Panel recommends increase in county councillors’ allowances

County Hall, Northallerton.

A panel that annually reviews allowances paid to North Yorkshire county councillors is recommending an increase in the basic allowance and the special responsibility allowances of 1.75 per cent for 2022/23.

If the proposed increase is approved, the basic allowance will increase to £10,316 from £10,142 in 2020/21.

John Thompson, chairman of the independent remuneration panel, said: “The increase takes into account the more demanding nature of the work done by councillors during the pandemic, the proposed local government pay offer and also the need to ensure that they are adequately and appropriately compensated for their vital contribution to local government.

“It is also important to consider the need to continue to attract the required calibre of candidate from a more diverse range of backgrounds, to stand and serve as a councillor.

“This is particularly relevant today as there will be county council elections in May 2022.”

Officials point out that in comparison with similar local authorities North Yorkshire is 12th out of 16 for the level of its basic allowance and remains 9 per cent below the average.

County councillors will consider the recommendation at the full council meeting on November 17.

The independent remuneration panel’s work was made more complex by the proposed increase in the number of county councillors at the May 2022 elections.

This will see an increase from the existing 72 councillors to 89 or 90.

The increase is the result of the creation of a new unitary authority for North Yorkshire as of April 1, 2023.

Mr Thompson said: “The recommended increase of 1.75 per cent results in an annual increase in the basic allowance for a councillor of £174 in 2022/23.

“Based on the existing 72 councillors, the cost of this proposed increase is £12,528 per annum.

“However, at the elections on May 2022, the number of councillors elected will then become 89 or 90. This increase is required by government as part of the establishment of a new unitary council for North Yorkshire.

“Therefore, the government’s required increase of 18 newly elected councillors will create a total increase of £170,214 for the 11 months from May 2022.

“In absolute terms this may be seen as a large increase but, more importantly, as from 1 April 2023, the total number of councillors in North Yorkshire will reduce from more than 300 to just 89 or 90, creating significant savings to the taxpayer overall.

“Therefore, 2022/23 must be viewed as a unique transitional year, which is necessary for achieving these savings.”

Cllr Carl Les, leader of the county council, said: “I thank the panel for its work and for looking at this issue with independent eyes.

“It is important that the level at which allowances are set is not a barrier that would prevent anyone from standing for a council position, regardless of such things as age, personal circumstances and whether they are in work.

“It will be a matter for each councillor to decide, at the full council meeting on November 17, whether to take all, some or none of the proposed increase in the allowances.”