Payments to Councillors
The Members' Allowances Scheme
Allowances and expenses are subject to a great deal of public interest and local government has particularly rigorous standards of transparency and accountability.
Councillors must enter on a public register all their financial and other outside interests. They must also declare their interest in any item to be debated in council or committee. The rules on what councillors may claim in expenses and allowances are set by the Council following a recommendation by an independent panel. No councillors can sit on this panel but they can be called to give evidence.
All councils publish their members' allowance scheme setting out the allowances members are entitled to receive and what expenses they are able to claim for. Most allow councillors to claim for some travel, subsistence, meals and accommodation when away from home for council approved duties. There are strict rules about this. The total amount of allowances claimed by each councillor are available using the following ink
While serving as a councillor an individual is restricted from being employed by the district council. They are also restricted from being employed by the council for a period after they are no longer a councillor. Being a councillor is not necessarily a full-time role and many continue to work in addition to being a councillor. They may hold other public body positions for which they may receive income. However, there are strict rules about declaring any interests.
Councillors do not receive severance pay at the end of their term of office.
Who decides the level of allowances and expenses?
Local authorities in England are required to set up independent remuneration panels (IRPs) to review and make recommendations on Members' Allowances. The panel must consist of at least three people, none of whom may be a member or employee of the local authority in question. Government guidance suggests ways of selecting a panel and that care is taken to ensure the independence of the panel and the public perception of its independence. The panel's recommendations may remain in place for up to four years, after which the allowances scheme should be reviewed by the panel. The panel is also required to meet whenever the council decides to amend its allowances scheme. Authorities are not obliged to accept and implement their panel's recommendations (except on the issue of pensions: when a panel determines an authority should not permit members to join the Local Government Pension Scheme, its decision is binding). The allowances scheme is an issue for all councillors and must be voted on by the full council.
Publicising the allowances' scheme
The council must advertise the scheme which it adopts and publicity must be given to the recommendations of the panel. The publicity must specify the main features of the scheme and describe the responsibilities which attract a special responsibility allowance. Government guidance suggests the information should be published on the authority's website, in at least one local newspaper and in the authority's own newspaper, if it has one. As the scheme must be adopted by full council it is subject to public scrutiny and media attention. The council must also publish the actual amounts paid to its councillors in any given year and total sum paid by it to each member in respect of basic, special responsibility and childcare and dependent carers' allowances.
What allowances can be claimed?
The Local Government Act 2000 and the consolidated Members' Allowances Regulations of 2003 enables a panel to consider the following allowances:
- Basic allowance
- Special responsibility allowance
- Dependants' carer's allowance
- Pensions for members
- Travel and subsistence allowances
- Co-optees allowances
- Provision for suspension of allowances under certain circumstances
- Suitability of an index for allowances and what that index may be.Basic allowance
All members of an authority are entitled to a basic allowance.
Special Responsibility Allowances
Special responsibility allowances recognise that some members, usually those on the executive or who chair council committees, will spend more time on council work.
Dependants' carer's allowance
This allowance assists members by contributing £5 per hour towards the cost of employing another person to undertake their caring responsibilities while they attend meetings.
Travel and Subsistence Allowances
Derbyshire Dales District Council wishes, on environmental grounds, to encourage its Councillors to make use of public transport wherever possible. Rail travel is reimbursed at second class rates. In the absence of convenient and practical forms of public transport, Councillors may use their own transport provided that the distance travelled is more than three miles in any one direction.
Meal allowances are paid where Councillors are away from their normal place of residence for more than four hours in the performance of an approved duty.