Council cash crisis: Nearly three quarters of Kirklees councillors agree to take cut to their allowances

Most Kirklees councillors have agreed to take a five per cent cut to their allowances.
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Coun Cathy Scott ruffled a few feathers shortly after becoming leader of the council when she instigated a review of councillors’ allowances to cut costs at a time when the council needs to make a £47m saving to balance its books.

This resulted in all 69 elected members being asked to take a five percent cut to their allowances. On top of this, Coun Scott requested that members opt out of a previously scheduled pay increase.

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Initially, councillors had been asked to declare whether they intended to reduce their allowances individually and publicly at a full council meeting in September.

Leader of Kirklees Council, Coun Cathy ScottLeader of Kirklees Council, Coun Cathy Scott
Leader of Kirklees Council, Coun Cathy Scott

This caused outrage, especially among some members of Kirklees’ Conservative group, with group leader Coun David Hall calling the move “unforgivably crass” as it would single out those who could not afford to take the financial hit.

In what appeared to be a last-minute u-turn, councillors were asked to instead declare whether they accepted the decrease in allowance by email, with the results to be made public at a later date.

Kirklees Council says that 51 out of 69 councillors have agreed to take a full five percent off their allowances. It is unclear if the leader of the council is included in the totals as Coun Scott took a 10 percent reduction upon taking office.

A group-by-group breakdown is as follows:

Labour: 37 out of 38

Conservatives: five out of 18

Liberal Democrats: six out of eight

Greens: three out of three

Independent: 0 out of two

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Each of Kirklees’ 69 councillors are entitled to a basic allowance of £15,080, with additional payments, or ‘Special Responsibility Allowances’ for those with extra responsibilities.

Shortly after coming into post as Leader of the Council, Cllr Scott took an immediate 10 per cent cut to her new £27,210 leader’s allowance and the nine cabinet members agreed to knock five per cent off their £13,709 allowances.

Coun Scott said: “We are pleased with the support shown by our councillors in taking this step towards fiscal responsibility and solidarity within our community during these challenging times.

“Their willingness to make personal sacrifices reflects our commitment to prioritising the needs of the people we serve above all else."