Local Government Minister Grant Shapps has hit out at recommendations by the Local Government Association for hikes to councillor allowances.
"It is not justifiable for hikes in councillor allowances when public sector workers are facing a two-year pay freeze. We're all in this together, and those who hold public office need to lead by example".
The new Government is also putting on the scrapheap Labour proposals to hike councillor pay even further, and instead, is pledging greater openness and transparency on councillor allowances.
- Councillor allowance hikes at time of pay freeze: The LGA has recommended a rise for councillors of 2.3 per cent this year, as well as a "daily rate" of £152.77 for those attending the LGA. Most
councils have already adopted a pay freeze this year. Ministers are calling on councillors to freeze their allowances.
- Above-inflation hikes: Payments to councillors have already been significantly hiked since 1997. There is a worrying trend for the professionalisation of councillors, who should be volunteers.
- Need for ‘sunlight’ of openness: There is no central list of councillor allowances – although the LGA has a secret list. The new Government is pledging to require councils to publish allowances in an
open and standardised format online, allowing for voluntary groups like theyworkforyou.com to 'mash up' the data and publish allowances, councillor by councillor, in one place.
- Government to bin Labour "golden" payments: A Labour-commissioned report recommended that councillor allowances be increased even further. It advocated ‘golden goodbyes’ for councillors kicked out of office, a national pay salary for all councillors and gold-plated final salary pensions for all councillors. Ministers are rejecting all these proposals.
Shapps warned that it would be harmful for local democracy if councillors become the bankrolled staff of the town hall, and said it was time to bring "the sunlight of openness" to their allowances.
"We all need to do our bit to restore the public finances to good health and ensure taxpayers get better value for money", he added.