Councillors on Labour-run Norwich City Council have voted through an 11% increase in allowances – including a 54% increase for the leader Cllr Brenda Arthur with her special responsibility allowance increasing to £10,000. Opposition Green Party councillors backed the increase saying it represented "terrific value for money."
Remember that Council Taxpayers in Norwich also pay for another batch of councillors on Norfolk County Council. The report proposing the increase in allowances for offered the justification the leader of Cambridge City Council gets £10,433 on top of the basic allowance, the leader at Ipswich Borough Council £11,235 extra and the leader of the City of Lincoln Council an extra £9,519.
Certainly it is also interesting for councils to "benchmark" against what others are doing. But at a time of spending cuts would not "best practice" have been for council leaders in Ipswich and Cambridge to be reducing their allowances?
In any event this imperative to follow the example of others seems to have been abandoned by Norwich when it comes to the basic allowance – which is being increased in Norwich from £5,420 to £6,000. That will put it well above any of the "urban shires" that Norwich used to compare itself to. In Cambridge the basic allowance is £2,782 – so the Norwich councillors were already paying themselves nearly double that even before the increase. In Ipswich the basic allowance is £3,745. The Taxpayers Alliance have helpfully produced a full list.