Councillors in Brent vote for an increase in their allowance while £54m cuts take place in the borough
PUBLISHED: 15:03 25 February 2016 | UPDATED: 15:50 25 February 2016
Councillors in Brent have voted to give themselves an allowance increase totally more than £50,000 despite £54million worth of cuts taking place in the borough.
Less than two years after all 63 politicians received a bumper allowance rise of 25 per cent a second hike will come into effect from April after they gave the proposals the green light at a meeting this week.
The news also comes as councillors voted for a 3.99 per cent increase to Council Tax bills from April.
The borough is in the midst of multi-million pound cuts across the board including slashing funds for youth services, closing a day centre in Kingsbury, decreasing money available for social care and transferring all their children’s centres to the charity Barnardo’s.
Just three councillors opposed the increase: Cllr Helen Carr, Liberal Democrat councillor for Mapesbury, and Labour’s Keith Perrin (Northwick Park) and Janice Long (Dudden Hill).
Opposing the extra allowance, Cllr Perrin, said: “We’re making substantial cuts, we are putting up council tax and we are putting up allowances by one per cent across the board. I can’t vote for this.”
The 60 councillors said yes to an extra £100 to be added to their basic allowance of £10,000 and incremental rises for all committee members including those who pocket extra for “special responsibility”.
The introduction of a new additional scrutiny committee, which will hold the council to account, will cost an extra £35,000.
Further extras available includes discretionary childcare costs for councillors who attend meetings and travel and food expenses for those who go to conferences outside the borough.
Dia Chakravarty, political director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will certainly not be pleased. When hard-pressed residents are struggling to pay their bills and councils are having to budget carefully, an increase in councillors’ allowance simply cannot be the best use of taxpayers’ money. Councillors will have to continue to make tough decisions to find necessary savings, so they cannot afford to have their moral authority questioned by raising their allowance.”
A spokesman for Brent Council said: “The law requires that all councillors vote to set the rates, but that in so doing, they take account of an independent expert remuneration committee that has looked into the matter in detail and advised them of what the appropriate sums are.
“There is one single such independent advisory committee for the whole of London, and that group made its recommendations in 2014, to have effect up until 2018. Brent Council considered that advice when setting its allowances.”