Mr John Cade, Chairman of the Independent Remuneration Panel, presented a report on the outcomes of a review the Panel had undertaken in respect of the Council’s Members’ Allowances Scheme.
A key component of the review was to examine how South Kesteven District Council’s allowances compared to neighbouring authorities and authorities classed as ‘statistical neighbours’ who shared similar demographics. An evidence gathering session was also held on 9 March 2022 whereby all Members of the Council were invited to meet with the Panel or submit written representations on any aspect of the current Members’ Allowances Scheme they wished to raise. Nine Councillors met with the Panel either in-person or remotely with one written representation also having been made. The Panel also met with the Council’s Chief Executive.
Taking into account the benchmarking against other authorities and comments received as part of the evidence gathering session, the Panel agreed to twenty recommendations which impacted the Basic Allowance, Special Responsibility Allowances, the allowance paid to the Council’s Independent Person (Standards), the Childcare and Carers’ Allowance, the Travel and Subsistence Scheme and the Broadband Allowance.
The Leader of the Council thanked the Panel for conducting the review and producing a comprehensive report. He acknowledged that it was always difficult as a Council making decisions on its own Members’ Allowances Scheme, recognising in addition that South Kesteven District Council’s represented one of the highest paid of the county’s second tier authorities, although also being the largest district. In the current economic climate he did not think it was appropriate to agree to any increases in the Basic Allowance or Special Responsibility Allowances received by Councillors and therefore proposed that Full Council did not accept recommendations 6.1 to 6.14. He also proposed, however, approval of recommendations 6.15 to 6.20.
The proposition was seconded and the following points were made during debate of the motion:
· It was the correct decision in the current economic climate not to accept an increase in the Basic Allowance or Special Responsibility Allowances received by Councillors
· The Childcare and Carers’ Allowance should be increased and continue to reflect the national minimum wage
It was proposed, seconded and AGREED that the meeting be extended by a further twenty minutes.
Having been proposed, second and voted upon it was AGREED that recommendations 6.1 to 6.14 be not accepted by the Council.
Having been proposed, seconded and voted upon it was AGREED that recommendations 6.15 to 6.20 be approved.
That Full Council:
1. Approves that the allowance paid to the Independent Person (Standards) be set at £1,500 per annum.
2. Approves that the Childcare and Carers’ Allowance be set at £9.50 per hour with an annual cap of 200 hours.
3. Approves that, until the next Independent Remuneration Panel’s report or for a period of four years, whichever is the sooner, the hourly allowance for childcare and carers be increased in line with the increase in the national minimum wage.
4. Approves that no change be made to the Travel and Subsistence Scheme.
5. Approves that allowances continue to be linked to any annual salary increase awarded to South Kesteven District Council Officers and that such index-linking continues until the next Independent Remuneration Panel’s report or for a period of 4 years, whichever is the sooner.
6. Approves removed of the Broadband Allowance from the Members’ Allowances Scheme.