May 27, 2022 1.00 pm

‘It’s not the right time’: Council leaders reject allowance increase

And broadband allowance is scrapped entirely

South Kesteven District Council leaders have said now is “not the right time” to take an increase in their members allowances.

However, they have voted to increase an allowance paid to the Independent Person for Standards, and bring the childcare and carers allowance in line with the national living wage.

A report before the authority’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday, suggested a series of increases, including 2% to the current £5,886 a year members receive in basic allowances and the same for those members with special responsibilities.

Conservative Council Leader Councillor Kelham Cooke said: ” It is always an increasingly difficult decision to take in terms of the allowance scheme as such, because we are one of the higher paid local authorities for district level in Lincolnshire.

“However, in the current economic climates, it is not my recommendation at the present time to take an increase in allowances. I don’t think that sends the right message to our electorate who at the present time are also struggling with rising costs and rising bills like everybody else, including all of us.”

Labour group leader Councillor Lee Steptoe said he was “pleasantly surprised” by Councillor Cooke’s recommendation.

“I was going to talk about the mood out there regarding politicians, politics, cost of living allowance and how I personally in all good conscience could not take a rise in the personal allowance at the moment,” he said.

Councillors voted, however, to increase the authority’s childcare and carers’ allowance to £9.50 – bringing it in line with with the national minimum wage. It will continue to rise in line with that rate for the next four years.

The Independent Person for Standards will also see their allowance increased to £1,500 a year.

Councillor Cooke said: “Due to the immense amount of work that the independent person undertakes, it’s only fair that they are remunerated properly for their time that doesn’t directly impact members.

“In terms of childcare and carers allowance, we need to encourage and support those members that do need that assistance and I know it isn’t claimed very much but that the wage is the national living wage that we are proposing… that’s only right for those members.”

An allowance for broadband was also removed entirely.