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Councillor gravy train – the sequel…

By Angela Harbutt
February 19th, 2010 at 11:50 am | 7 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

cashBack in April 2009 I wrote a piece “Councillors join the gravy train”  pointing out the ludicrous rise in councillors remuneration in recent years.  

Now, despite a demand from the Government for councils to allow public scrutiny of senior local authority officials pay and benefits, Councils have resisted the order. The reason  – it  would lead to a public outcry- that “it could lead to personalised attacks” … officials “families could be at risk of abuse” etc etc. I don’t know about you but that has eyebrows raised in my house  – just how big a scandal is this if Councils think the public reaction to seeing who is being paid exactly what, will be that extreme ? My oh my what are they hiding? Just how big IS this latest scandal.

It was obvious. Following the MP expenses scandal,  public service officials income and benefits needed greater transparency. As part of a “cleaning up of politics” process, the Government, rightly, sought to make public the pay and benefits, allowances and pay-offs of local authority officials earning over £50,000. Its much harder to pay over-inflated salaries and above inflation pay rises when the voters can see what you are doing and who is getting what.

So how come the Government has apparantly backed off from this demand? Following, the frankly ludicrous bleating of councils as to why they should not let the voters see the figures, they have somehow won ! The government has accepted that only those local government officials earning over £150,000 will be identified (thats still over 100 of them). Allowing thousands of senior local authority officials to continue hiding behind anonymity.

And not only are many local authority officials on astonishingly high incomes – they have been getting huge pay rises a over the last couple of years as the rest of Britain suffers.

It’s a disgrace. And something that we, as taxpayers, should not put up with. If officials can’t justify the salaries and benefits they are on – they shouldn’t be getting it.


Councillors join the Gravy Train

By Angela Harbutt
April 28th, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Comments Off on Councillors join the Gravy Train | Posted in UK Politics


Whilst we have all been preoccupied in recent days with the hows, whys and wherefores of MPs allowances. I was stunned by a report I stumbled across on Radio 5 on Sunday evening concerning the incredible rise and rise of Councillors allowances. Listen to the report here:

The BBC looked at figures for Councillors expenses across the 388 Councils in England, comparing figures over the 4 years 2004 to 2008.

What they found was that around 300 of those Councils had awarded themselves above inflation rises. Some councils have awarded themselves rises in the 100% range.

Example: Rochford District Council in Essex has more than doubled its allowances bill. 3 years ago the Council Leader was claiming around £10,000, now he claims £25,500. His excuse ? That this was done to put Rochford “in line” with other Councils in Essex. Oh please.

Councils appoint a remuneration panel to recommend Councillors allowances – but crucially the Councils can ignore or be selective about what recommendations they take up. And indeed too many do ignore them.

Unlike MPs, Councillors can only claim a flat rate (no John Lewis list here) , though some also can claim a “special responsibility allowance” if they hold what they laughably call a “cabinet post” or are a council leader etc. And of course, some will be eligible for other allowances from elsewhere within the Government system. What is pretty shocking is that Councillors dont even have to turn up to claim the allowance – and again, believe you me some of them dont. All aboard please… the Gravy Train is about to leave the station.

So whilst we are in the mood for “cleaning up” and hopefully, slimming down, politics, let’s not focus all of our attention on Westminster. Let’s spend some time examining the increasingly huge amounts of our money, many Councillors are spending on themselves.

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