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Brent councillors award themselves a 17.6% pay rise – but council insists it won’t cost anything

PUBLISHED: 16:51 15 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:18 15 May 2018

Cllr Muhammed Butt, whose Labour group has increased its majority on Brent Council. Picture: Ken Mears

Cllr Muhammed Butt, whose Labour group has increased its majority on Brent Council. Picture: Ken Mears

Archant

Brent councillors this week awarded themselves a 17.6 per cent pay rise – but slashed the extra allowances for people sitting on scrutiny committees.

The basic allowance for councillors has risen from £10,201 to £12,000 – a hike of £1,800 – after the new Labour council voted it in on Monday night.

The decision means Brent councillors’ basic allowances are higher than at any of its neighbouring councils (ranging from Hammersmith & Fulham on £8,940 to Kensington & Chelsea on £11,027).

But some special responsibility allowances (SRAs), largely those for chairs and members of scrutiny committees, have been cancelled or reduced – while the allowance for leader of the opposition has been slashed from £13,042 to £6,000 a year.

A council spokesman said the decision was “a balanced approach which reflects the significant funding cuts from government over recent years.”

He added: “On one hand, the proposals are set to increase the basic allowance paid to all councillors from £10,201 to £12,000 meaning the budget we have available is spread more evenly among councillors.

“At the same time we are set to remove, or significantly reduce, the additional special responsibility allowances which some councillors who hold various positions, such as chairing a committee, are paid on top of the basic allowance. This was one of the recommendations from the Independent Remuneration Panel set up to advise on allowances paid in all London boroughs.

“The changes will be paid for from the council’s existing budget for executive and member services.”

Paul Lorber, the former Liberal Democrat leader of Brent Council, has slammed the proposal as “dishonest” as it wasn’t widely publicised before the election.

“Councillors awarding themselves large and unjustified pay rises at a time when other workers still face a fall in the value of their pay in real terms is an insult,” he said.

A Labour spokesman said the cuts to SRAs would offset the increase in members’ allowances almost exactly, with about £40 difference between the council’s old salary spend and the new one.

This somewhat contradicts the council’s official line that the total spend on SRAs will not be known until all the committees have been appointed. That’s because, if one person is given two special roles, he or she can only be paid a salary for one, rather than having them both added together.

The changes mean Cllr Muhammed Butt’s salary tops £50k for the first time – a £39,758 leader’s allowance plus his new £12,000 councillor’s salary.

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