Rochdale Council recently announced its intention to increase Council Tax by 3.5%, however using a loophole in the Localism Act, it intends to deny residents a say in a local referendum. Rochdale may not be the only council in Greater Manchester thinking of doing the same.
Employing people in non-jobs is one of the many ways councils keep Council Tax bills high, and some councillors are receiving special responsibility allowances for positions that at best can be described as dubious. I'll use Tameside as an example.
There are fifty-seven councillors in Tameside who each receive a basic allowance of £11,640. Fifty-one of those councillors also receive a special responsibility allowance. In 2010/11, Cllr B Holland pocketed an additional £8,352 for the posts of Assistant Executive Member - Carbon Reduction and Chair of Carbon Reduction Panel. Cllr Smith also got £8,352 for the onerous task of being an Assistant Executive Member - Policy Advisor.
Tameside has eight district assemblies where councillors meet with local people to discuss matters affecting them. Many councils have similar committees, however what other councils tend not to do is pay outrageous additional allowances to councillors to act as chairs and deputy chairs. Part of the role of a councillor is to serve on these committees, and as the district assemblies in Tameside met no more than six times during 2010/11, acting as a chair or deputy chair is not an all consuming task. Despite this, taxpayers had to fork-out an additional £9,581 to each of the eight chairs, and £3,194 to each of the eight deputy chairs.
Waste disposal and transport are not services provided by individual authorities. Instead, Greater Manchester councils pool their resources. As a result, waste is the responsibility of the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) and overseeing transport is the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee (TfGMC). Serving on these committees should be part of the role of a councillor, however councillors are paid extra for attending a few meetings a year.
Members of GMWDA are paid a basic allowance of £2,100. The Chair is paid £12,000; Vice Chairs are paid £5,400, and Deputy Chairs of Committees are paid £2,600.
TfGMC members are paid a basic allowance of £3,825. The Chairman, Andrew Fender, pockets £28,250 on top of his Manchester councillor's allowance of almost £16,000, whilst Vice Chairs/Chairs of the Sub-Committees are paid £14,125, and Deputy Chairs of Sub-Committees are paid £5,050.
The above are just examples. There are many more when you start digging. If you are a resident in one of the Greater Manchester councils and your council wants to increase Council Tax, remember some councillors are being paid extra for dubious sounding non-jobs, and for simply fulfilling their council duties. Are they willing to cut their perks before they raise your taxes?