Huge Rises in Allowances Planned for Hounslow Councillors
Leader to get 47% increase with boost of over 50% for cabinet members
Councillors in Hounslow from both political parties look set for significant increases in allowances with a report recommending large across the board and backdated rises.
As part of a wider review into the borough constitution the council is planning to raise the basic allowance paid to all councillors by the same level as council staff have received this year as well as much bigger increases in the Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) paid to councillors with extra duties including the leader and deputy leader. There are also raises for the Mayor, Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Mayor, and the inclusion of an SRA for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
The cost of the proposed increases will be £178,000 for this financial year including payments backdated to 1 April 2020 and £233,000 for FY2021/22.
The council leader Steve Curran will get a 47% increase in his SRA from £27,200 to £40,000 which Hounslow says is still below the average for borough leaders in London. All councillors continue to receive their basic allowance on top of the SRA so for Cllr Curran the combined payment for the current year would be £51,576.
Deputy leader Lily Bath will see her SRA increase by 56% to £25,000 and the eight other cabinet members also see their allowances rise by 56% to £20,000. In addition 5 new Cabinet Portfolio assistants roles are being created which will pay an SRA of £8,916.
The majority group Chief Whip will get an extra allowance of £10,000 up from £2,603 and £2,500 will now be paid to a deputy Chief Whip as well as £2,750 for a minority group whip.
The chair of the borough planning committee will receive £10,000 as opposed to £6,400 with the deputy chair now paid £5,000, the role having previous been unpaid.
The Leader of the Opposition, Gerald McGregor, will see his SRA increase from £2,168 to £11,000 and a new SRA for a deputy leader of the opposition of £5,500 will be paid.
The basic allowance that all councillors receive will rise by 2.75% from £11,266 to £11,576.
The council says that the increases are in-line with recommendations made in 2018 by an independent panel established by London Councils to consider the levels of remuneration paid to London councillors. The rises are justified by comparisons with the average level of SRAs paid by other London Borough Councils.
There will also be an introduction of a continuation of SRA payments in cases of sickness and of parental leave, on the same terms as council employees.
The Independent Panel review recommended that no more than 50% of councillors should be receiving SRAs but under the current proposal 43 out of 58 (with two seats vacant) will be getting extra payments.
Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council said, “The review makes clear we have fallen significantly behind other London authorities and need to make our scheme fair for all. When our Mayor’s role attracts only slightly over half the London average, we have a challenge. Worse, when our Conservative opposition leader receives less than a fifth of the going rate, we have to put things right. Even now, proposed increases don’t take roles to the London average, as we are also careful to maintain our hard-earned reputation for sound financial management.
“We are fortunate in Hounslow in the quality of our councillors. But the Independent Report shows it is increasingly hard across London to recruit people to stand as councillors and low allowances and the time needed are seen as major disincentives. But as the report also makes clear, the role of a councillor should be open to all, regardless of background, and these first steps towards bringing Hounslow’s allowances to the same level as the rest of London are key towards that ambition”.
The report recommending the rises by Cllr Shantanu Rajawat is due to be considered and voted on by the full Council meeting on 2 March.
A petition has been set up calling for the rises in the allowances to be scrapped.
February 28, 2021