York councillors set to get pay rises of between 12% and 50%

The City of York Council crest mosaic in the Guildhall. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
15 Dec 2019 @ 7.58 pm
| Politics

York councillors are set for big pay rises.

The authority’s Independent Remuneration Panel Report 2019 is recommending the basic allowance for councillors increases by more than 12%.

And it says the payments for members with special responsibilities should rise by up to 50%.

Inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, stood at 1.5% in October.

The panel says the new payment recommendations reflect the increasing workload of councillors, including the extra time they spend on social media.

One independent councillor has said the proposed increases invite public ridicule and he will be refusing the pay increases, if councillors vote in favour at a meeting on Thursday (19 December).

The recommendations

The council chamber at York Guildhall. Photograph: City of York Council
The panel recommends that the basic allowance, which goes to every councillor, should rise from £9,198 to £10,371, a rise of 12.75%.

That would see the pay bill for councillors rise from £652,000 per year to £770,000 per year.

Councillors’ workload has increased, the report says, with more council meetings. And the panel “heard of the ever-growing presence of social media and electronic communication and how this has led to a significant increase in the level of engagement between councillors and their residents”.

Its report says:

  • The panel was also convinced that the workload associated with being a councillor had increased since the last review.

    In response, the Panel calculated the basic allowance by taking 52.5% of the median pay figure for York (an increase from 50% previously), to reflect the changing nature of members’ roles.

This is then discounted by a third to recognise that being a councillor is a public service role.

Councillors with special responsibilities get extra allowances. Unlike the basic allowance, these have not risen in line with staff pay awards since it was set in 2015.

The panel says these should rise by between nearly 20% and nearly 50%. The proposed changes are set out in the table below.

The proposed increases to special responsibility allowances
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Special ResponsibilityCurrent SRA% of Leaders allowanceMovementrec % of Leaders allowanceRecommended SRA% increase
Deputy Leader£18,2017070£21,77819.66
Group Leader (Main Opposition)£11,7004545£14,00119.66
Deputy Leader (Group of more than ten members)£5,2002020£6,22319.66
Group Leader (Minority Party) [min 4]£5,2002020£6,22319.66
Executive Member£15,6006060£18,66819.66
Chair of CSMC£5,2002025£7,77849.57
Chair of Scrutiny£5,2002020£6,22319.66
Chair of Main Planning£7,8003030£9,93427.35
Chair of Area Planning Sub Committee£5,2002025£7,77849.57
Chair of Licensing and Regulatory Committee£5,2002025£7,77849.57
Chair of Audit and£5,2002025£7,77849.57
Chair of Full Council (LM)£2,6001010£3,11119.66

The panel also came to a clear view that the office of the Lord Mayor and civic party was “seriously under-resourced both in absolute terms and relative to that provided in comparable cities”.

It said:

  • Apart from making the task of the civic party much more difficult, the Panel felt in the strongest terms that it did not reflect well on a city, which must compete with others for inward investment.

    In the panel’s view, the support package must change if the role of the Lord Mayor is to retain its significance as an ambassador for the City and in providing a ceremonial role for communities.

‘Snouts in the trough’

Cllr Mark Warters. Photograph: City of York Council / YouTube
One councillor very unhappy about the proposals is the independent member for Osbaldwick Mark Warters.

In a letter to the council’s monitoring officer, Cllr Warters writes that news of the proposed pay rises were delayed so as not to “cause embarrassment and invite public ridicule on to political candidates standing in the election who are also CYC councillors”.

He writes:

  • Once again I find myself ashamed to be associated with CYC as this is the same scenario as 2015 except that it’s a bigger trough with a few new snouts trying to jostle for position.

    As far as I am concerned and I made the point in 2015, current Councillors should NOT be approving increases to their OWN allowances.

    If such increases are deemed acceptable then the increased rate of allowance should only come into force for a new council after, in this case, the 2023 local elections.

He says he would refuse the increase if ratified at full council on Thursday.