West Sussex Labour calls for “across the board” cut in county councillors’ special responsibility allowances
West Sussex Labour Group Leader Michael Jones has submitted an amendment which, if voted through, would cut the special responsibility allowances of those county councillors who receive them by a quarter, to come into effect after the next set of council elections in May. This would result in an additional saving of almost £100,000 which could be used to support other council spending.
West Sussex Labour Group Leader Councillor Michael Jones has tabled an amendment to the proposals due to be decided at Friday’s full meeting of West Sussex County Council. The Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) has set out its recommendations for councillors’ allowances for the next four years of the council following the beginning of the new council term in May 2021;
- However, the panel proposed to cut opposition group leader special responsibility allowances while generally leaving the other special responsibility allowances (mostly received by the majority Conservative Group) unchanged;
- The concerns over the lack of consistency in the IRP report, and its inequitable treatment between opposition and majority group councillors, expressed by Labour and Lib Dem councillors at the last meeting of the county council’s Governance committee were ignored by the Conservative majority, who voted to proceed with the proposals which would see their own allowances remain unchanged;
- Given the financial pressures facing local government and the inconsistency in treating those councillors with special responsibility allowances between the majority Conservative group and opposition councillors, Labour Group Leader Michael Jones is bringing forward an amendment to the recommendations at Friday’s full council.
- The amendment would see an approximate 25% cut in all special responsibility allowances, not just those of the opposition groups, and would bring about a further saving to the council of £100,000.
- The council has three options, it can either:
- accept the recommendations of the IRP,
- it can choose to retain the current scheme of allowances,
- or it can accept an alternative amendment, such as the one being proposed by Cllr Jones.
Now's not the time to reward politicians. Cllr Michael Jones
Speaking after submitting the amendment to the council, Cllr Jones said: “West Sussex Labour councillors recognise first and foremost that times are tough and that with the cuts being made by the West Sussex Tory Cabinet across council services, and public sector workers facing an effective pay cut with the freezing of their wages, we believe that county councillors should recognise and take their share of the reductions.
“The current proposals put forward leave virtually everything for those in the governing party largely intact. The Tories cannot have it both ways. Steep decreases for the opposition and status quo for everyone else is certainly not a good look to be giving the public.
“This amendment accepts the reduction by the panel to the opposition special responsibility allowances which amounts to about a reduction of a quarter, but also applies it across the board to all the other ones as well. We believe that residents would not accept it being only applied to some of them but not for all.
“Now’s not the time to reward politicians. Councillors need to make some sacrifices to make sure our residents get the services and our key workers get the pay and support they deserve. The Labour proposal strikes a sensible balance and goes to show why West Sussex needs new leadership from May.”