Conservative controlled Surrey County Council has frozen the Special Responsibility Allowances as well as the Council’s Basic Allowance paid to councillors
Council leader Cllr Andrew Povey says:
“At a time when the council’s finances are tight and we are asking staff to take a pay freeze I think that councillors should do the same. We are all in this together, and I think we have demonstrated that. The Independent Remuneration Panel suggested a new Special Responsibility Allowance (SRA) for the Deputy Leader of £27,664, and whilst we felt that this new position merited a new allowance this figure wasn’t justified. I believe that our proposal for an SRA of £3,000 was fair and I am glad that the Council recognised this.”
By freezing allowances, and removing the clothing allowances for the Council's Chairman and vice-Chairman (which was £3,005 and £363 respectively), the Council were able to provide a smaller than recommended new Special Responsibility Allowance for the Deputy Leader and still make savings relative to the 2009/2010 allowances budget.
Cllr Tim Hall, Cabinet Member for Change & Efficiency, says:
“The Independent Remuneration Panel reviewed allowances and proposed a number of cuts and rises to various positions. Their proposals would have seen the scrutiny role devalued by cutting altogether the allowances for Select Committee vice-Chairmen, whilst the Leader and Cabinet would all have seen large increases. The Conservative Group felt these proposals to be unfair. Scrutiny
Committees have never been more important and their workloads are, in fact, increasing. There was also not felt to be a fair case for large increase in the allowances for the Cabinet and the Leader. The Deputy Leader was an exceptional case because it was a new position, but the proposed increase of over £10,000 p/a was simply not acceptable. A relatively small increase of £3,000 p/a is fair and reasonable”.
Cllr Helyn Clack, who chairs the Council’s Change & Efficiency Select
“I think today that we have demonstrated that politicians are responsible and that when we ask staff to take a pay freeze we will do likewise. I also think all councillors are conscious that over recent months the public have expressed their anger over parliamentary expenses and over the costs of politics in general. What we’ve demonstrated is that we recognise budgets are tight and ‘we get it’. Surrey County Council wants to ensure value for money, and that goes for councillors as much as it
does for our services”.