Kent County Council publishes councillors' expenses and allowances

June 08, 2011 9:47 AM

Kent County County Council regularly hits the headlines when we publish our annual Town Hall Rich List. The chief executive was paid a basic salary of £214,423 in 2009/10, and also received a bonus of £10,615. When you add contributions to his taxpayer funded pension scheme of £56,223, and expenses of £18,350, he cost taxpayers a total of £299,611.

Yesterday, the council published the expenses and allowances of councillors for last year. There are 89 councillors in Kent, who between them claimed £1,855,590 - an increase of £42,000 from the previous financial year. The interesting figures, however, come from the cabinet.

In total, cabinet members received £280,000 - which is £55,670 higher than the previous year. This represents an increase of almost 20%! Not much belt tightening there, with the council leader earning almost £60K.

No-one is saying councillors should not be financially compensated for their time. The days when only wealthier people or those who are retired could serve as councillors have thankfully long gone, but increases like these cannot be justified in any economic climate.

Paul Francis, the political editor of Kent Online, makes some good observations on his blog. He says:
So do we get value for money and would KCC be any different if it was represented by say, 60 county councillors, rather than 84? Democracy needs strong political advocates and it is vital that there are strong checks and balances in the system but I do sometimes sense that County Hall would get along just as well with fewer politicians.

[caption id="attachment_38480" align="alignright" width="263" caption="Should there be fewer councillors in County Hall? "][/caption]

He makes a very good point. With fewer councillors, and those at the top showing restraint, the overall wage bill (and expenses bill) could be reduced by hundreds of thousands of pounds. Across the country, this could be tens of millions of pounds, and these savings can be made without a reduction in service.

I was talking to a former councillor from Yorkshire recently who said he did very little casework, as most of his constituents called the council directly, rather than contact him. The rest of his time was spent on committees which he said were merely rubber stamping exercises, rather than forums for robust debate and scrutiny.

So it begs the question: if we can reduce the number of MPs by around 10%, surely we can do the same for councillors?Kent County County Council regularly hits the headlines when we publish our annual Town Hall Rich List. The chief executive was paid a basic salary of £214,423 in 2009/10, and also received a bonus of £10,615. When you add contributions to his taxpayer funded pension scheme of £56,223, and expenses of £18,350, he cost taxpayers a total of £299,611.

Yesterday, the council published the expenses and allowances of councillors for last year. There are 89 councillors in Kent, who between them claimed £1,855,590 - an increase of £42,000 from the previous financial year. The interesting figures, however, come from the cabinet.

In total, cabinet members received £280,000 - which is £55,670 higher than the previous year. This represents an increase of almost 20%! Not much belt tightening there, with the council leader earning almost £60K.

No-one is saying councillors should not be financially compensated for their time. The days when only wealthier people or those who are retired could serve as councillors have thankfully long gone, but increases like these cannot be justified in any economic climate.

Paul Francis, the political editor of Kent Online, makes some good observations on his blog. He says:
So do we get value for money and would KCC be any different if it was represented by say, 60 county councillors, rather than 84? Democracy needs strong political advocates and it is vital that there are strong checks and balances in the system but I do sometimes sense that County Hall would get along just as well with fewer politicians.

[caption id="attachment_38480" align="alignright" width="263" caption="Should there be fewer councillors in County Hall? "][/caption]

He makes a very good point. With fewer councillors, and those at the top showing restraint, the overall wage bill (and expenses bill) could be reduced by hundreds of thousands of pounds. Across the country, this could be tens of millions of pounds, and these savings can be made without a reduction in service.

I was talking to a former councillor from Yorkshire recently who said he did very little casework, as most of his constituents called the council directly, rather than contact him. The rest of his time was spent on committees which he said were merely rubber stamping exercises, rather than forums for robust debate and scrutiny.

So it begs the question: if we can reduce the number of MPs by around 10%, surely we can do the same for councillors?

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