County councillors have unanimously rejected plans for their allowance increase for 2021 in Friday’s council meeting.
Leader of Lincolnshire County Council, Cllr Martin Hill proposed that “allowances stay the same this year as they were last year, so the effect of that is no rise at all which I think is only the right and proper thing to do in these circumstances.”
As council leader, Cllr Martin Hill’s allowance would have increased from £35,026.42 to £35,989.64 next year, a difference of £963.22, but he rejected it.
He said: “There are lots of businesses out there which are struggling [and] no longer trading.”
He added there are also “lots of people who are, although furloughed, fearful of their jobs”.
All 69 elected councillors currently receive a basic allowance in order to carry out their specific roles.
The figure is currently £11,055.27, but this would have risen to £11,359.28 if the 2.75% increase was approved – a £304.01 increase.
Previously, Cllr Robert Parker, leader of Lincolnshire’s Labour party, said his party “would probably be supporting it” but the position changed on Friday as they voted instead to maintain the level of allowances.
He said: “An increase is not right at the present time,” but questioned where the £30,000 savings would go.
Cllr Parker suggested “some benefits should flow to staff whose pay is being frozen”.
As leader of the opposition, Cllr Parker’s allowance would have risen from £9,949.73 to £10,223.34 – an increase of £273.61.
Cllr Hill said: “There will be an overspend at the end of this year,” so the £30,000 saved could go towards filling a hole in the budget next year.
Councillor Robin Renshaw, Labour ward councillor for City of Lincoln, said: “We would just show our insensitivity if we accepted a pay rise in this current state where we have got people struggling to put food on the table.”
The level of allowances for councillors is recommended by an Independent Renumeration Panel (IRP), made up of people from outside of the council.
In 2018, the IRP recommended that the members’ allowances scheme continues to be linked to the average percentage increase in pay for employees for the next three years.
It is set to be reviewed in 2021.
According to the BBC on Friday, a £3,000 pay rise was rejected by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which sets MPs’ salary.
IPSA said the rise would “be inconsistent” and “would not reflect the reality that many constituents are facing” because of the pandemic.
MPs’ basic salary is currently £79,468 a year.