New row brews over Norfolk County Council allowances
Norfolk's county councillors are poised for another pay rise next month – just over a year after controversially voting to increase their allowances by 11 per cent.
As part of a previously agreed arrangement, councillors will be given an extra two per cent expense allowance from April 1.
However, unlike the previous rise, which was proposed by the ruling Conservative group, it has not been voted through by the councillors themselves.
Instead, it is an automatic rise agreed in December 2017 to sit alongside a pay increase for staff.
Despite being planned more than a year ago, it has still come under criticism, with purse strings at County Hall remaining tight in the current financial climate.
Dan Roper, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at County Hall, said: “As a group we opposed the larger increase and do not support this one either.
“It beggars belief that in a time when this council is reducing the income of disabled people that councillors can be given any pay increase – pre-agreed or not.”
Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group, added: “We do not think it is justified for any increase in allowances given the unacceptable hike just over a year ago and given the current financial situation the council finds itself in.
“There is a time and a place for everything, but this is neither that time or that place.”
The change marks the second year in a row a two percent increase has come in on April 1 – part of a national pay bill increase for council workers across the country.
In December 2017, councillors controversially voted in favour of boosting allowances by 11pc, in a much-criticised move.
A Norfolk County Council spokesman said councillors can opt out of any part of their entitlement by notifying financial directors in writing.
They added that councillor allowance scheme mirror any increases in officers pay.
Meanwhile, further allowance changes could be brought about in the coming months, as the council is due to change to a cabinet model of governance after the May local elections.
A review is to be carried out by an independent remuneration panel ahead of the move, which will be considered at a full council meeting in April.