Agenda item


The Chairman again welcomed Mr Richard Quirk, Chairman of the Independent Remuneration Panel to the meeting and invited him to introduce the report.


Mr Quirk outlined the process that had been undertaken to produce the recommendations set out in the report.  Consultation had taken place with Members and thanks were expressed to those that had responded, noting the response rate had again been low.


Mr Quirk also outlined the factors which had been taken into account, summarised in paragraph 1.2 of the report by the Panel in reaching its recommendations, namely an increase across the board of 1.5% to Members’ basic allowance and Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA’s). 


This proposal if accepted would increase the Members’ basic allowance in real terms by an extra amount of £1.77 per week per Member.


Acknowledging that Members had rejected their increase the previous years and whilst also recognising the reasons for this, Members were reminded of the importance of keeping remuneration at level to avoid a one off large increase should remuneration fall below comparable rates. Remuneration was there to ensure no one was prevented from being Councillor due to out of pocket expenses.


Debate ensued and a Member, whilst acknowledging the report was a fair and reasonable one, referencing the ongoing staff pay award settlement, considered the timing was unfortunate.


He outlined the current position between staff, unions and Government and as such felt taking an increase whilst staff were still awaiting their award for last year did not feel appropriate.   Referencing staff for the asset they were concern was expressed at the lack of wage increase in a world of every increasing costs. It was questioned whether consideration of this matter should be deferred as he was of belief staff pay should be more of a priority than that of elected Members.


In respect of mileage rates, and given the huge rise in fuel prices, Members’ rate had remained static for a many years. Some considered that those Members who did not live close to Gainsborough, as the administrative capital, were financially penalised.


In response, Mr Quirk, indicated that Treasury Guidance was used.  45p per mile was the maximum the Council could allow without evoking taxation rules.  As such any rise would be lost to tax and would not be to the benefit of the Councillor.


Dependent Carers Allowance was raised and in reference to the living wage increase it was asked whether this could be considered by the Panel in future years.


Several Members spoke of their discomfort at staff not receiving their pay rise due to ongoing union negotiations. It was also acknowledged that the allowance did not currently cover all expenses, with those who worked often having to take unremunerated leave from their day jobs, but Councillors did not undertake their roles for the pay and they could not control when staff received any award, however an increase of some level was likely and as such the recommendations as written were proposed.


Members reminded one another that if the proposal was supported a Councillor could individually decline the increase, or not claim their travel, for example.  The allowance was essential whilst the need was variable and it was in a Members gift to claim or not, as outlined, in accordance with their preferences. 


The Remuneration Panel were thanked for their work by Members across the Chamber and across the political parties.  Mr Quirk was congratulated for having engaged Members in the process.


Mr Quirk in turn thanked Members and the Officers of the Council who supported the Remuneration Panel’s work; Alan Robinson, James O’Shaughnessy and Susan Norman.


There were concerns given the comments made through the debate and a Member reminded the Chamber that the Unions were the only bodies who could negotiate direct with the Government around staff remuneration.  The importance of their existence, even to non-union members, was outlined and the alternative scenario was shared.


Having being moved and seconded it was: -


RESOLVED that the new rates, an increase of 1.5% to the individual Basic Allowance and Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA’s), as detailed in the attached Appendix,  for the Civic Year  2022/2023 be approved.



Note:    Councillor Cotton requested that his abstention against the above vote be recorded in the minutes.

Supporting documents: