Next Wednesday, Full Council will consider a report, prepared by an independent panel, which recommends an increase to the allowances that councillors receive.
It is proposed that the basic allowance for councillors is increased from £4,883 per year to £7,500. However, the overall cost would actually be lower than the total sum paid to the members of our predecessor councils Suffolk Coastal and Waveney.
Meanwhile, the cost to each East Suffolk taxpayer, for all councillors in total, would be £1.72 per year - which remains lower than eight of the other 11 councils in Norfolk and Suffolk.
Ahead of the meeting, Cllr Steve Gallant - Leader of East Suffolk Council - has spoken about the proposals. He said:
"Following a thorough and detailed review, an Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) has recommended an increase in Member Allowances which reflect the roles, responsibilities and workload of East Suffolk Councillors in comparison to our predecessor councils.
They have reached their conclusions having considered a range of criteria to establish the fairness and merit of the payments which councillors currently receive.
Following the creation of the new council to replace Suffolk Coastal and Waveney - and the overall reduction in councillors from 90 to 55 - the panel established that councillors now have far greater responsibility; each representing considerably more residents, businesses and community groups as well as a far larger geographical area.
However, even if this recommendation is now approved, the overall cost of member allowances will still actually have been reduced when compared to Suffolk Coastal and Waveney. The total cost of the proposed basic allowance amounts to an overall saving of over £112,000 per year, compared to the payments previously made to Members.
And overall, Member allowances is only a tiny fraction of the Council’s total budget, with payments to councillors representing only around 2% of our net spend on critical local services that our communities want and need.
The panel also recognised that allowances for East Suffolk councillors have been historically low and, in comparison to other councils in Norfolk and Suffolk, our members cost the taxpayer less than anywhere else in the region. Even with this proposed increase, the individual cost to East Suffolk taxpayers will still be lower than eight of the other 11 councils in the two counties.
It is also worth remembering that, unlike a Member of Parliament, for example, payments to councillors do not represent a full time salary. However, councillors still work very long hours and councils need to attract more and different people to the role, who may otherwise be put off because of financial concerns.
The panel have recognised this issue and are recommending that the Council investigate ways to attract people from different backgrounds, with a wide range of skills, to the role."