County council approves ‘awkward’ 4.2% pay increase for members

KCC

By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan

A controversial pay increase of more than 4% for Kent county councillors has been approved.

Kent County Council members voted for the 4.2% rise to their basic allowances during County Hall’s first virtual full council meeting amid the coronavirus crisis. A total of £1.3million will be paid out to its 81 members.

Silence filled the online chamber as none of the councillors wished to speak about the rise in the public meeting. Technical glitches disrupted the key vote in mid-session but the Local Democracy Reporting Service understands that Labour, Lib Dem and Green party members abstained along with two Tories.

KCC’s leader Roger Gough (Con), who will see his pay rise from £66,000 to £70,000 for this financial year, described the system as “awkward” for members involved and said he could understand resident’s frustrations.

After the meeting, the former KCC cabinet member said: “We try to detach ourselves from the process as much as possible.”

A basic allowance refers to the amount of cash that councillors receive from KCC for their services throughout the year. The latest increase will see this rise from £15,561 to £16,217 for each elected member.

Many KCC councillors receive higher pay for taking on extra responsibilities, such as becoming a committee chairman or cabinet member. This is reviewed annually and elected members vote on the proposal at full council.

KCC has told that Local Democracy Reporting Service basic allowances are not “salaries” because councillors are not full time employees.

However, the increases have not been without controversy. It was under the spotlight in 2017 when former leader Paul Carter (Con) proposed to enlarge the basic rate of pay by 15% in a single year. This was voted in by councillors.

Following this it was agreed, also in 2017, that future increases in members allowances should be linked to the same percentage rise awarded to all council staff.

The latest rise has proven contentious given the financial difficulties faced at County Hall amid the public health emergency with the coronavirus.

KCC’s administration has recently said it will need at least an extra £50million from Boris Johnson’s Government to cover the growing costs of Covid over the next 12 months, which is forecast to be £130m at this stage.

After the meeting, KCC’s Labour group leader Dara Farell said members were unable to set their own pay while KCC’s main opposition leader Rob Bird (Lib Dem) added: “The rise is part of formula that was agreed in 2017 and there is not much that we can do about it.”

However, Benjamin Watts, KCC’s head of governance, said the pay rise could be refused, adding: “The increase applies to all members unless they explicitly to write to ask for it to be kept back.”

Cllr Shellina Prendergast (Con), KCC’s cabinet member for communications, complimented the administration for its “transparent” approach.

Entry level officer salaries will increase to £18,039 which equates to £9.35 per hour. This is above the national set limit of £8.72 an hour for people aged 25 and over. This was also endorsed by the full council team.

On officer pay increase, she added: “There is an expectation that people are awarded for delivery in their role.

“We know that delivery has never been tested quite as much as it has been in recent months and I know we are all grateful to our workforce for incredible effort.”

20 Comments

  1. Why do they need a pay rise when I can’t even get my rent rebate back from Thanet District Council been trying since the 6th of March.

  2. The Government have already indicated that my pension will not increase this year. Where is the justice. ?

    Let’s see how many from each party decide not to accept the salary increase or an increase in their pensions and traveling expenses.

    It appears to be a bottomless pit at the residents expense

  3. The Chancellor has today stated that Gas & Electricity prices have fallen. The cost of fuel for the car has fallen. In order to attract customers businesses have had to reduce prices.

    How can KCC Councillors justify their 4.5% increase.
    Perhaps a County Councillor will give an honest answer. ?

  4. It appears that the triple lock on my pension is to be removed. Should I at 75 and shielding have to go out to work in order to maintain a basic standard of living.

    Perhaps it would be easier if I caught COVID-19 and passed away thus allowing the Government to use the money I have paid into my pension for other purposes.

    Of course KCC can see the number of new dwellings being built in Kent thus increasing the money going into the KCC central pot thus allowing them to have an increase in salary.

  5. Just staggering. This makes me so angry. Pleading poverty and hinting at Council Tax rises one minute then giving themselves an inflation busting pay rise the next.

    Totally out of touch and they should all be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

  6. This is the sort of thing, you would expect to be in the news, on April fools day.

    Council tax money well spent again.

  7. I will continue to give 15 percent of my allowance to local charities and good causes and will always believe that our payment should be linked to the pay of council workers,

    • Well done Barry, you set a good example.
      But residents should know that since the current crop of KCC councillors was elected they have already awarded themselves a 15% pay rise, now another 4.5% on top of the 15%. Greedy Tories taking the mick out of council tax payers. But most of you voted Tory so you are happy for this transfer of wealth from residents to councillors to continue.

  8. ‘Awkward’… honestly you could not make it up. Massive job losses, people off to food banks. Many have not seen wages rise for years. Pathetic. Rot goes all the way to Westminster.

  9. Yet again, pigs with their snout s in the trough. Like the rest of us pensioners there should be NO increase in “allowances”! I am angry that his shows that there is one rule for them and another for us.

  10. Thousands have lost their jobs and they give themselves a pay rise – ludicrous. In a true democracy we the people should decide and base a proposed rise on performance – as in the real world.

  11. Well done Barry, you set a good example.
    But residents should know that since the current crop of KCC councillors was elected they have already awarded themselves a 15% pay rise, now another 4.5% on top of the 15%. Greedy Tories taking the mick out of council tax payers. But most of you voted Tory so you are happy for this transfer of wealth from residents to councillors to continue.

  12. They should not be allowed to vote themselves allowance rises each year as obviously they will. That rule should be removed with immediate effect. Everyone is feeling the strain of the pandemic financially on top of the fake austerity measures brought in by these government tories but here we are at KCC pleading poverty to the government whilst their councillors are giving themselves even more take home money. What a f….. up mess we are in.

  13. I wrote to KCC after yesterday’s full council meeting to decline this pay rise. It’s wrong to have a pay rise when so many are struggling. We have rising poverty and it looks like unemployment will continue to rise.

  14. This is madness a £50m deficit was highlighted on the news last night! and now they vote themselves a 4% payrise while millions are losing their jobs
    Unbelievable!

  15. When the next elections come around, ponder two things:
    Nationally, which party was it that cheered when a pay rise for nurses was turned down;
    Locally, which party was it that voted for a 4.5% pay rise whilst 1000s of their fellow citizens are facing redundancy?

  16. This should not be allowed, plain and simple.

    Many at the moment are facing losing jobs, houses, there whole lives collapsing around them and yet the buffoons at KCC decide it’s time for them to have a pay rise!

    Just shows the Torries don’t give a s**t about the average Joe, only it for to help themselves while denying those that need the money the help they should get. Scum.

  17. Time for a total freeze on council tax with zero increases for anything and no hidden extras like social care and police.

    If they can’t control their budget then stop spending is the only answer.
    Too many middle management building empires and too few workers.

  18. As John L Gibson implies. “You get what you vote for!”
    The London government has been Conservative for over ten years. They determine how much money comes down to County Councils. The Community Charge is only a minor part of the money spent on local services. So, when the national government reduces the cash available, and the County Council is Tory-run as well (like KCC) they will not cause any fuss or embarrassment for their Party colleagues in London. In fact, they will grit their teeth in horror at what is being done but, in public, waffle on about “difficult conditions” or “economic problems” or even try to present it all as some kind of character-forming challenge for us to overcome. Then they get on with the task of cutting the police, and schools, and libraries, and road repairs etc.
    You get what you vote for. If you don’t like it, you can always vote for someone else. But I seem to notice that there is a lot of outrage in these comments pages but little attempt to put a name to the Party making all the decisions.
    Might there be a lot of “denial” going on in the country generally. Voters support the Tories but then reserve the right to grumble about the results as if they had no part in it. As if we vote according to some abstract whim or belief with no connection to our actual lives and interests. Then express surprise when it all goes wrong.
    You get what you vote for.

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