Kirklees councillors face pay freeze over special responsibility allowances

Special Responsibility Allowances paid to councillors in Kirklees are to remain at last year’s levels pending a “root and branch review” of the scheme.

The decision follows the annual meeting of the Members’ Allowances Independent Review Panel (MAIRP), which considers and recommends the Members’ Allowances Scheme to council.

Last September councillors awarded themselves a 2.75% pay rise, which is in line with that paid to officers on Kirklees Council.

Approving the £375 rise took members’ allowances to £14,002 a year.

Huddersfield town hall
Huddersfield town hall

The money, known as a basic allowance, is paid to all 69 elected members for carrying out their ward duties.

The vote took less than four minutes with all but one member voting for the increase.

At the time Councillor Aleks Lukic, the Dewsbury Borough Independents member for Dewsbury East, said the recommendations on pay made by the MAIRP were no longer relevant as they had been overtaken by events related to the coronavirus pandemic.

However on top of their basic allowances some members receive special responsibility allowances (SRAs).

They include all group leaders, deputy leaders, business managers, chairs of committees and members of the all-Labour decision-making Cabinet.

No councillor receives more than one SRA.

In its report last December the six-member MAIRP recommended that SRAs for 2021/22 should remain at the 2020 rate pending a root and branch review of the Members’ Allowances Scheme due to take place this summer.

It said any increase to SRAs as an outcome of the review will be backdated to April 1 2021.

Among its reasons for freezing the rate of SRAs was that councillors have been faced with “substantial change” in their working environment as a result of Covid-19.

It also agreed that the basic allowance be increased in line with the amountvawarded to Kirklees Council officers as standard.

The panel’s recommendations – a majority decision – will be taken to a future meeting of full council for approval or rejection.

A minority on the panel said there should be no increase in either the basic allowance or SRAs. That recommendation could be revisited in the summer review “by which time the implications of Covid-19 for public sector spending are likely to be clearer”.

Who gets what in SRAs:

Council Leader Councillor Shabir Pandor – £26,364

Deputy Leader Coun Peter McBride – £19,772

Members of Cabinet – £12,833 each

Conservative group leader Coun David Hall – £10,291

Lib Dem group leader Coun John Lawson – £10,291

Independent group leader Coun Charles Greaves – £3,860

Green group leader Coun Andrew Cooper – £3,860

Chair of Overview and Scrutiny, Coun Liz Smaje – £11,577

Other SRAs per annum:

Business Manager (30+ councillors) £10,291

Business Manager (20-29 councillors) £7,719

Chairs of Planning Committees £6,432

Lead Members of Scrutiny Panels £6,432

Police and Crime Panel Members £6,288

Business Manager (7-19 councillors) £5,147

Chair of Licensing and Safety Committee £5,147

Place Partnership Lead Members £5,147

Deputy Group Leader (12+ councillors) £3,860

Chair of Appeals panel £3,860

Chair of Corporate Governance and Audit Committee £2,572

Chair of Standards Committee £2,572

Business Manager (3-6 councillors) £2,572

Adoption Panel member £1,285

Fostering Panel member £119 (day rate)