Thursday, December 20, 2007

Money and Politics IV

Henry Smith was apparently happy to complain about our MP's expenses. Of course, we all know that our Henry would never, ever, put himself in a position where he could be accused of putting his nose into the trough.

Or would he...

According to the Evening Argus, West Sussex Council recently reviewed the councillor's allowances. What happens is that an independent review panel is set up, and they make recommendations. The same happens at Crawley Borough Council, and when I chaired the relevant committee (the excitingly named 'General Purposes Committee'), it was certainly expected that the review body's recommendations would be taken as they stood, and certainly that councillors would be very careful before voting for more cash.

The WSCC review panel recommended a freeze on increases. So what did our elected servants in Chichester do? Did they accept a pay freeze, because as the panel's report said, "Public service, rather than material reward, should be the primary motivation for involvement in local government."

Well, er, no. They instead voted for increases. Three committee chairs will get an increase of 27% (that's about 10 times the rate of inflation). The Cabinet members, such as Lt Col Tex Pemberton, get a 14% increase (a mere five times the rate of inflation).

Henry will have to make to with only an 11% increase (four times the rate of inflation) as Leader.

Now, WSCC will claim that because they didn't spend money on a pension scheme for councillors, they've saved money. However, it's only a matter of time before such a scheme is set up, and of course it will more than likely be a final salary one, so an allowance increase now just makes the scheme more expensive when it does come in. I predict it will arrive some time after the next County elections, or before if they can suddenly pull out one of their rare low tax increase budgets (rare? they happen every four years, by some sheer coincidence).

The allowance increases are apparently backdated to April.

link

3 comments:

Skuds said...

I think one of us has read the council papers wrong, and I'm starting to think it might be me!

When I saw that non-executive chairs of committees would get 8982 and that three committees had a much lower SRA than the others I just assumed the increase only applied to the scrutiny/select committees. Looking again, the recommendation does not specify, so maybe the planning, rights of way and regulatory ones are indeed getting 36% (don't know where you got 27% from)

Don't know how you get 14% for Tex and co either - I make it 16.5%

Skuds said...

Ah. Just realised - you took the percentages straight from the Argus story...

I know your grasp of maths is better than theirs. Don't believe everything you read in the papers! :)

Danivon said...

That'll teach me to believe the papers.

I will do the sums myself and see what I find. We can't have inaccuracy, can we?