Large Increases in Allowances Proposed for Ealing Councillors

Peter Mason could be paid 70% more for leading the council

Some Ealing cabinet members could see allowances double
Some Ealing cabinet members could see allowances double

Details have now been published of a proposal for substantial increases in allowances paid to councillors in the London Borough of Ealing.

It was originally suggested by the opposition Liberal Democrats that these pay increases would be discussed by cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday (18 May) but it is understood that they will now be considered at a meeting on 24 May.

The council leader Peter Mason will see his Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) rise from £32,100 to £54,860 and increase of 70.9%

Combined with an increase in the basic allowances, his total renumeration from the council will be £66,874. An independent renumeration panel recommended that the current total remuneration of a London borough leader should be £74,106.

It is understood he also receives an additional income from his role on the OPDC – we have asked that organisation to confirm the amount paid.

The deputy leader Deirdre Costigan will see her SRA increased from £21,384 to £39,860 and cabinet members see their allowances more than double to the same amount having previously been paid £16,032. This rise will be capped at £23,916 for the current financial year. Where two councillors share a job in the cabinet, 50% is paid to each.

The SRA payable to cabinet members will be adjusted according to the average number of hours they are employed elsewhere per week with a full allowance paid if they work 14 hours or less and only two fifths of the allowance paid if they are in full-time employment.

The basic allowance for all councillors has increased by 23.8% from £9,708 to £12,104, the level recommended by an independent renumeration panel. Councillors receiving SRAs will also benefit from this increase.

Councillors can waive part or all of their allowance should they wish.

All allowances in this scheme (basic and SRA) will be subject to an automatic annual increase at the same rate as the nationally agreed NJC pay rate for Local Authority Staff.

The report proposing these increases justifies the rises by referring to The London Councils’ Independent Panel on the Remuneration for 2022. The panel is made up Mike Cooke (Chair), Sir Rodney Brooke CBE DL and Anne Watts CBE and last reported in 2018.

In recommending further increases in allowances and SRAs the panel state, “The feedback we received is that the workload and responsibilities of councillors continues to increase and that their role has become more complex, and not only in the areas of social care and housing. There has been a growth in other public sector activities including community safety with increasing engagement with the Police, increasing expectations for closer working with health services, and in some boroughs more involvement with joint venture partnerships and local authority trading companies.”

It adds that it continues to be challenging to recruit candidates from a diverse background and a high enough calibre to become councillors. The panel’s report points out that basic allowances for London councillors are below the average for those in other parts of the country.

The Liberal Democrat Councillors on Ealing Council will vote against these changes.

Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Malcolm, Leader of the Opposition said, "Liberal Democrats say that it is wrong for Labour to massively increase the allowances for the Leader and other senior roles without any discussion with the communities of Ealing. Councillors should be paid a fair allowance for the work they do but Labour’s proposals seem very wrong given the current cost of living crisis. It appears they are sticking their noses into the gravy boat.”

Cllr Julian Gallant, Leader of the Conservative Group, said, “Tonight Labour showed no respect for hardworking people in Ealing. Not only has Labour dramatically raised payments to senior leadership, but they have also introduced an unworkable scale based on the amount of hours a cabinet member is working elsewhere! Conservatives oppose a rise in councillor allowances, which are paid from your tax."

A council spokesperson said, "The Council has moved to respond to the recommendations of the 2022 report of the London Independent Remuneration Panel .

"This is the first substantive review to the level of members allowances since 2006. It is right and proper that a fair system of remuneration is in place to compensate elected officials for the time invested in public duties.

"These changes reflect the increased expectations and demands placed on the leadership, governance and quasi-judicial functions modern local government expects of its elected officials.

"Historically Ealing’s member allowances have not risen in line with the recommendations made by the London Independent Remuneration Panel. The scheme continues to reflect the public spirited nature of elected office, with all rates of allowance either being set at or below the amounts recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel.

"The change also seeks to reverse the growth of additional special responsibility allowances over the last few years by reducing the total number of councillors in receipt special responsibility allowances."

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May 25, 2022