Posted tagged ‘cambridgeshire county council’

In Defence of Councillor Allowances

October 19, 2011

Simply after the plastic money?

I told my WLLG compadres that I was about to write this piece and they expressed a certain trepidation. In fact one wrote back:

Wow, you’re not going to make friends with that post! 

The exclamation point was a definite sign that I was planning to tread on some dodgy ground.

Because there is nothing that collectively raises the ire of officers, trade unions, the press and the local population to such an extent as the ‘councillor allowance’, or specifically the increase of the councillor allowance.

In particular, it seems that the decision by Cambridgeshire County Council to adopt a 25% increase in their council allowances has annoyed (I love a good understatement) many of the local folk.

The council allowance varies between many local authorities but in most cases provides a pre-specified amount of cash to compensate councillors for expenses incurred in the carrying out of their official duties. This is usually a lump sum that despite being paid for recompense bears no relationship to the specific tasks carried out and is thus not dependant on attendance, contributions, ability or even travelling time. (how that differs from a salary has always been a mystery to me). The allowances are taxable and taken together it is not hard to see why these allowances are seen as basically a councillor salary.

From the way some people speak you’d think that councillors were firmly on the gravy train.

And yet, if we are to consider the allowance to be the equivalent of a salary, and even if we don’t, this is simply not the case.