Tories vote themselves a 15% hike in allowances

July 14, 2017

At yesterday’s full council meeting, the Tory group brought and passed a motion to award themselves a colossal 15% increase in allowances. In doing so, they ignored the recommended modest increase of 1.5% from the Independent Member Remuneration Panel. Our KCC member, Martin Whybrow (right), who will be donating his increase to charity via the Giftaid scheme, was among members of the opposition who spoke vehemently against the proposal.

All twelve opposition members in attendance at the council meeting voted against the motion, so too one Tory, with nine abstentions, which left 48 to vote in favour.

Martin Whybrow says: “Whether we should even have accepted the Independent Panel’s recommendation was debatable and, indeed, I opposed this. However, the Tories completely ignored the Panel’s views and waved through this huge hike for themselves. I’d heard that such a motion might be on the way but I still couldn’t quite believe it when I saw it there in black and white at the full council meeting. In the debate I described it as ‘staggering’ and ‘unacceptable’. I think other appropriate words might be ‘grubby, greedy and grasping’. It is a kick in the teeth to KCC staff who face yet more job cuts, to so many residents who are struggling due to welfare and front-line service cuts, and to public sector workers still burdened with the 1% pay cap.” 

 
At the start of the meeting, KCC leader, Paul Carter, admitted the huge challenge that KCC is experiencing in meeting the current budget and, clearly, there is no left-off of austerity from central government, which has seen council budgets slashed by around 40% in five years.
“The whole episode has left a really bad taste in the mouth,” says Martin. “To put it into context, KCC members’ allowances are already ahead of those of most other councils around the country, even without this hike. Moreover, there was a clear consensus from members who spoke to the Remuneration Panel that current allowances were considered fair, given the workload involved. The Tory group hope, of course, that by doing this at the start of the four-year county council cycle, it will be forgotten come the next elections. It is a typical political ploy, to do all the unpopular stuff in the first year.

At present, the basic annual members allowance is £12,805, but with this increasing steeply for the leader and for those with cabinet, deputy cabinet and other responsibilities. The Remuneration Panel’s recommendation would have increased the basic allowance to £13,000, with subsequent increases index-linked to theStaff Total Contribution Pay Process. The Tories cited as a reason for the increase an eight year freeze, plus a voluntary further cut in 2009 of 1.5% in the basic remuneration and a 5.4% cut for those with special responsibilities.

You can watch the debate here, on KCC’s website, under item 10 of the webcast: https://democracy.kent.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx…


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