Demand to cut allowances
by Roxanne Blakelock firstname.lastname@example.org COUNCILLORS are facing demands to cut their allowances after knocking up �885,000 over the last financial year. Westminster Council s Liberal Democrats have demanded deep
by Roxanne Blakelock
COUNCILLORS are facing demands to cut their allowances after knocking up �885,000 over the last financial year.
Westminster Council's Liberal Democrats have demanded "deep cuts" in Westminster's councillors' allowances, after figures just released reveal they collected over �885,000 from April 2008 to March 2009, a 26 per cent rise in two years.
The total amount paid out to councillors rose from �704,836 in the 2006/07 financial year, to �885,211 in 2008/09.
Mark Blackburn, chair of Westminster Liberal Democrats, and the party's parliamentary candidate for Westminster North, said: "Unlike many local council areas, Westminster is very compact. That means it is very easy and cheap to get around. Allowances for councillors here do not therefore need to be as high as they are. There is plenty of scope for deep cuts that save taxpayers' money."
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This year Cllr Colin Barrow, the council's leader, will collect �42,000 as a special responsibility allowance on top of his basic allowance of �10,250.
In the last three financial years, just short of �2.5m has been spent on councillors' allowances in Westminster.
Mr Blackburn added: "We would cut allowances back to 2006 levels and cut in half the �1,000 payment for computer equipment. We have gone through the numbers, and these savings would add up to something like �1m over four years."
Cllr Melvyn Caplan, Westminster City Council's cabinet member for finance and support services, said: "Allowances are paid to members in Westminster and other London councils based on the recommendations of an Independent London wide panel.
"For the period of 2005/06 and for many years prior to that, the allowance for Westminster councillors was set at a level well below the amount recommended.
"In recognition of the fact that Westminster was paying at that time significantly below the average London allowance, Westminster increased its allowances to be closer to the London average."