Report of the Head of Democratic Services and the Independent Remuneration Panel.
The Council received for consideration the report by an Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) making recommendations in respect of the Members Allowance Scheme, and the report of the Head of Democratic Services setting out the options available to the Council.
Councillor MacCleary moved and Councillor Linington seconded a proposal set out in an addendum circulated in advance of the meeting, to reject the Panel’s recommendations in relation to the basic and special responsibility allowances at this time due to the current financial climate, but to agree other recommendations and to review the allowances recommendations again in 2022.
The proposal was put to the Council and agreed.
1) Having considered the recommendations of the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) as set out at Appendix 1 to the report, the Council is grateful to the Panel for its work and recognises the logic of the recommendations put forward, but is unable to accept them in full in light of the current financial challenges facing the Council whilst responding to the Covid 19 pandemic;
2) The Council resolves as follows in relation to each of the recommendations:
a) To set the basic allowance payable to all members of Lewes District Council at the current level of £3,260 per annum for April 2021 onwards, and to review the IRP’s report again in February 2022 to consider if it would be possible to adopt the higher level of basic allowance recommended from April 2022 subject to any future indexation that may apply;
b) To accept the recommendation that no Councillor shall be entitled to receive at any time more than one Special Responsibility Allowance and that this One SRA Only Rule be adopted into the Scheme of Allowances;
c) To retain the current levels of remuneration for all Special Responsibility Allowances, and to review the IRP’s report again in February 2022 to consider if it would be possible to adopt the IRP’s recommendations in relation to the Special Responsibility Allowances from April 2022 subject to any future indexation that may apply;
d) That further to c) above, to retain the existing allowance for the Scrutiny Committee Chair and attribute it to the Chair of the Policy, Performance and Advisory Committee and retain the existing allowance for Employment Committee and attribute it the Chair of the Joint Staff Advisory Committee in the years in which this Joint Committee is chaired by a Lewes District Councillor;
e) To accept the recommendation that travelling and subsistence allowances should continue to be payable to Councillors and any co-opted members in connection with any approved duties in accordance with the current scheme of allowances;
f) To accept the recommendation that the Dependants Carers’ Allowance should be based on two criteria. Rate one for Childcare should be at the market rate, reimbursed upon production of receipts, with no monthly maximum claim. Rate two should be for specialist care based at cost upon production of receipts and requiring medical evidence that this type of care is required. There should also be no monthly maximum claim;
g) To accept the recommendation that no change should be made to the current eligibility conditions for receipt of the Dependants Carers’ Allowance, except that the duties for which this allowance is payable should be in accordance with the list of approved Councillor duties. The Council should also actively promote the allowance to prospective and new Councillors both before and following an election;
h) To accept the recommendation that the recommended duties for which Dependants’ Carers’ Allowance and Travelling and Subsistence Allowance should be payable should be in accordance with the Approved Councillor Duties;
i) To accept the recommendation in relation to the approach to be adopted as a policy to support parental leave for Councillors;
j) To accept the recommendation that an IT Allowance for Councillors of £429 per annum be introduced from April 2021, subject to any future indexation that may apply and subject to it being reviewed again at the same time as the Council is scheduled to revisit the question of Councillor allowances overall in February 2022;
k) To accept the recommendation that the level at which the Council sets the basic allowance, each of the SRAs and the IT allowance, be increased on 1 April annually in line with the percentage increase in staff salaries up until 2024; and
l) To agree that the changes made to the allowances scheme will be implemented with effect from the beginning of the 2021-22 financial year, and to revoke the current scheme of allowances from the same date.
3) That the Head of Democratic Services be authorised to make the necessary amendments (if approved) to the Council’s Members’ Allowances Scheme; and
4) That thanks be conveyed to the Panel for the work undertaken and report produced.