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Agenda item

Member Allowances Scheme 2023/24

To determine the Scheme of Allowances to take effect on 1 April 2023 until 31 March 2024 having regard to the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel.     


65.1          The report of the Head of Democratic Services, circulated at Pages No. 12-21, asked Members to determine the Scheme of Allowances to take effect on 1 April 2023 until 31 March 2024 having regard to the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel as set out in its report at Appendix 1.

65.2          The Deputy Mayor invited the Chair of the Independent Remuneration Panel to address the Council.  The Chair introduced the rest of the Panel members and thanked the Council for inviting them to present their report.  Over the years, the Panel had interviewed over half of the Council with 10 interviews taking place in October 2022.  The Panel had found those meetings very helpful in terms of gaining a better understanding of what Members did.  It was important to note that, Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Basic Allowances had historically been one of the highest, both locally and across the country; this had meant that, in recent years the Panel had been unable to recommend an increase.  Whilst Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Basic Allowance remained amongst the highest in the country, the Panel had recognised the impact of inflation and felt it was appropriate to recommend an increase of 4%, or £300, effective from 1 April 2023.  It was also recommended that the Special Responsibility Allowances increase by the same amount i.e. 4%.  The Dependant Carers’ Allowance had been increased in 2022/23 and a further increase was recommended for 2023/24 from £9.50 to £10.42 in line with the National Living Wage.  The Chair of the Panel thanked the Head of Democratic Services and the Democratic Services Officer for their assistance throughout the process and hoped that Members would feel able to adopt the recommendations of the Panel.

65.3          In proposing the recommendation in the report, the Leader of the Council indicated that he was very grateful to the Independent Remuneration Panel for the hard work which it carried out year on year with regard to this matter.  It was a complex and demanding task and he thanked the Panel on behalf of the Council.  In seconding the proposal, a Member indicated that he had been privileged enough to be interviewed by the Panel and commended the diligence of the process.

65.4          A Member noted that Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Basic Allowance was above average and he asked if that was still the case - the report appeared to suggest the gap was reducing but the Council remained in the top tier in terms of allowances paid.  In response, the Chair of the Panel confirmed Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Basic Allowance remained one of the highest but a substantial number of other Councils were now creeping up so, whilst the gap remained, it was smaller than it once was.  The Panel had been keen to acknowledge the impact of inflation and although it could not recommend an increase in line with that, a modest increase was felt to be appropriate.  In response to a query as to the demographics of the Members that had been interviewed, the Chair of the Panel explained that the Panel had been keen to see Members who had not been interviewed before.  Given the Borough Council elections in May, the Panel would be open to talking to any Councillors who were willing to be involved in the process during the next review.

65.5           During the discussion which ensued, a Member indicated that she was under the impression that some of the Lead Member Portfolios were more demanding than others and yet the Special Responsibility Allowance remained the same for all Lead Members so she asked if it was possible to receive an annual report in order for Members to understand exactly what was required for each Portfolio.  The Deputy Mayor noted that Lead Members all brought a report to Council but at different stages over the course of the four-year term.  The Leader of the Council confirmed that was the system which had been in place for a long time but had unfortunately been interrupted by the pandemic. 

65.6           A Member felt it was important to be mindful of members of the public and he felt that increasing Members’ allowances might not be viewed in the best light given the cost of living crisis.  His personal view was that the existing allowances were adequate and that an increase was unnecessary so he would like to see that money put to better use.  Another Member accepted this point but indicated that one of the main purposes of Member Allowance Schemes was to provide some financial provision for Councillors to undertake their duties.  His fear was that not increasing the Member Allowances would discourage people with young families and those in full-time employment, who may need to take unpaid leave to fulfil some of their Council duties, from standing as Councillors which would limit the diversity of the Council and restrict the role to a privileged few.  He considered the Independent Remuneration Panel’s review to be very fair and he would be supporting the proposal.  This view was shared by another Member who had a young family and  believed that it was important to make it appealing to others in similar situations who wanted to represent their communities.  The Member who had suggested that the allowances should remain unchanged recognised the need to support people who wanted to become Councillors, and he was not saying that the allowances should not be increased in future, but given the current cost of living crisis, he felt it was the wrong time to make changes, particularly when the Basic Allowance remained one of the highest in the country.  In response, a Member pointed out that it was an election year so it was an optimum time to make the role more appealing and encourage people to run for election.  Another Member indicated that she had been a Councillor since 2011 and there had been no significant increase to the Members’ Allowances during that time.  Councillors were not exempt from the cost of living crisis and she reminded Members that, if they felt strongly about it, there was an option to re-pay a portion of their allowance so individual Councillors could choose not to accept an increase should they so wish.

65.7           Accordingly, it was

RESOLVED          1. That the Basic Allowance be increased from £7,350 to £7,650 for 2023/24.

2. That the Special Responsibility Allowances be payable as follows:

Leader of the Council                     £9,150

Deputy Leader of the Council         £6,860

Other Lead Members                     £4,575

Support Members                           £180

Committee Chairs                           £2,290

Mayor                                              £2,290

Deputy Mayor                                 £1,400            

3. That the Dependent Carers’ Allowance be increased from £9.50 per hour to £10.42 per hour.

4. That the Scheme run for a period of 12 months commencing on 1 April 2023 and ending on 31 March 2024.

5. That all other provisions within the existing 2022/23 Member Allowances Scheme be unchanged and remain in place for 2023/24.

Supporting documents: