Barnet's Labour councillors have refused a proposal by the Conservatives to increase the councillors' basic allowance of £10,597 by at least £448 this year, and inflationary increases thereafter. The basic increase would cost the council tax payer £28,224 each year or £112,896 over the four year municipal term.
An increase linked to local government staff pay awards for allowances across all bands was originally recommended in the London Council's Independent Remuneration Panel report earlier this year. The recommendations would have taken the basic allowance for Barnet councillors up to £11,045. This was discussed at the 6 March budget Council meeting but was kicked into the long grass by Conservative Council Leader Richard Cornelius for the new administration to decide after the local elections. The report to that meeting stated:
"The Leader has requested that, despite the London-wide Panel recommending the increases, there should be no changes to the currently adopted scheme. The new administration may wish to reserve the right review the Barnet Members Allowances Scheme in the light of the London Councils IRP recommendations."
After the local elections, Cllr Cornelius told Labour Group Leader, Cllr Barry Rawlings, that the Tories would accept the increase to allowances if Labour councillors went along with it.
Labour councillors proposed reducing the annual overall spend on councillors allowances by £112,084 in their budget amendment in March which would have saved the Council almost £450,000 over four years.
Cllr Rawlings said: “During the local elections Labour councillors and candidates pledged to cut the overall councillors allowances bill if we formed the next Council administration, so it would not be right to agree to increase them now.
"I raised the issue at the Labour Group AGM, and the entire Labour Group agreed with me that it was wrong to increase councillors' allowances - especially at a time of severe cuts to local services.
"We believe in putting local residents first, and have rejected this proposal on principle. Any available extra money should go towards local services not into councillors' wallets.
"I am disappointed that the Conservatives wanted to propose this, but not at all surprised. I have written to Cllr Cornelius to advise him of our decision."
1. A copy of Cllr Rawlings email refusing the councillor allowance increase:
From: Rawlings, Cllr Barry
Sent: 22 May 2018 12:12
To: Cornelius, Cllr Richard <Cllr.R.Cornelius@barnet.gov.uk>
Subject: Members' Allowances
Having discussed this at our Group meeting there was a unanimous decision against any increase in member’s allowances.
For more information contact:
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568