Councillors allowances set to be frozen again in South Tyneside

Councillors' allowance rates in South Tyneside are likely to be frozen for the seventh year running.

South Shields Town Hall
South Shields Town Hall

The basic annual allowance rate a councillor sitting on South Tyneside council can claim is £7,226.

On Thursday, at a meeting of full council to be held at Jarrow Town Hall, councillors will hear a report from the Independent Remuneration Panel – which makes recommendations to the local authority about allowances.

The panel has asked for the figures to remain unchanged for the 2016/17 financial year – but for a review to be carried out into the basic allowances and special responsibility allowances in September.

The report stated: “Members’ basic allowances have remained unchanged since the 2009/10 financial year.

“The panel has recommended that the scheme for 2016/17 should be reviewed in September 2016, once the outcome of the ongoing local government pay negotiations/staff pay award is known.

“It is recommended that the rates are reviewed by the panel with any backdated increases being aligned to the outcome of these negotiations.” Figures revealed by the TayPayers’ Alliance show that the borough’s councillors have also seen a reduction in the amount of expense claims.

In 2012/13 councillors claimed £10,034 in expenses, which can cover hotel stays, meals and travel. In 2013/14 this was reduced to £8,759 and it dropped to a £8,155 in 2014/15.

It’s been put forward by the panel that councillors, while working, can claim up to £6.21 for a breakfast before 11am and up to £100.89 for a hotel room outside of London.

Durham Council has the highest rate of basic allowance at £13,300 per councillor, while Hartlepool Council has the lowest at £5,825.

However, not all councils across the country have frozen their rates – or reduced them in recent years.

Between 2012-13 and 2014-15 £699million was paid out in allowances.

At least 238 councils raised the basic allowance and 208 councils raised the total bill for allowances and expenses between 2012-13 and 2014-15.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It goes to show that not every council has prioritised finding savings or cutting taxes over awarding local politicians above-inflation allowances.

“With the nation’s finances yet to be fixed, councillors across the country will continue to have to make difficult decisions.

“In order for them to have the moral authority to carry out that very important job, councillors must show restraint when it comes to their own taxpayer-funded allowances and ease the burden on hard-pressed families.”