York councillors will debate whether to increase their allowances next month – with a rise of nearly seven per cent on the table.
A series of options proposed by party group leaders will be discussed at a meeting of full council after some councillors objected to a move which would have seen a 4.04 per cent boost put in place without debate.
The Conservative group, made up of leader Coun Paul Doughty and Coun Martin Rowley, and independent Coun Mark Warters both say any rise would be inappropriate.
The basic allowance is £11, 105.69, while some councillors also get special responsibility allowances (SRAs) if they hold more senior positions.
Coun Doughty said: “To increase councillor pay would render the council as totally out of touch, if that was even more possible than it already is.
“It highlights a complete lack of empathy, awareness or respect for the financial challenges the country and majority of our citizens in York face at this time.”
Councillors will debate the following options: freezing both allowances; a £770 rise to the basic allowance and a 4.04 per cent increase to SRAs; or applying 4.04 per cent to both allowances.
A £770 rise to the basic allowance would represent an increase of just under seven per cent.
Inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, stood at 11.1 per cent in October.
Osbaldwick and Murton’s Coun Warters said he will refuse any rise and stay on the rate he received when last elected in 2019.
“I don’t believe in councillors voting themselves increases after they have stood for election knowing what the time commitments and allowances are,” he added.
Members’ allowances are reviewed on a regular basis. The last review was carried out in December 2019, when the basic allowance was hiked by 12 per cent and SRAs rose by up to 50 per cent.
In addition, in recent years, councillors allowances have also risen in line with the pay awards given to local government services employees nationally.
Councillors are not considered employees, however, and are paid an allowance rather than a salary.
This year, local government workers have been offered a 4.04 per cent increase to employee allowances and a £1,925 flat rate to all pay bands.
It is this new approach that has prompted debate about what councillors should receive within York.
Coun Doughty, who represents Strensall, added: “At least York Conservative group’s objection has contributed to failure for complete consensus and means the decision can’t be pushed through in a back door deal to suit some.
“We feel it is totally inappropriate to put more burden on our residents for something that they gain absolutely no benefit for at a time when so many will be struggling financially.”