Allowance rate frozen for borough’s 75 councillors

Council Chambers at Wigan Town Hall
Council Chambers at Wigan Town Hall
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Wigan councillors will not see a pay increase this year as allowances remain at their current rate, the town hall has said.

Pay structures for elected members have come under the spotlight in recent weeks after a leading pressure group criticised councils who have issued a rise.

But the borough’s 75 representatives for 2016/17 will not get any more than their counterparts in the current financial year.

Wigan’s allowances were frozen between 2012 and 2014 but increased around three per cent from 11,682 to 12,059 for 2014/15.

A town hall spokesman confirmed to the Wigan Evening Post the basic allowance will be capped at £12. The allowances and expenses total for the entire council chamber increased from £1,118,060 to £1,157,948 last year.

Last week the Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA) criticised local authorities for imposing above-inflation increases while making service cutbacks due to dwindling government grants.

Chief executive Jonathan Isaby said: “Taxpayers will be shocked to discover the rate at which councillors’ allowances have risen over the last three years, despite local authorities pleading poverty and in many cases raising council tax or cutting services.”

Opposition members have repeated calls in recent years to cut councillor numbers by a third, claiming that two members per ward would make substantial savings for the cash-strapped council.

But leader Lord Smith maintains that three to each ward is the correct number given the amount of casework each ward member carries out.

The TPA report also reveals that Lord Smith’s leader allowance increased from £35,050 to £36,179 last year. Cabinet members - of which Wigan Council, not including the leader and deputy leader - also receive extra payments on top of their basic allowance, as do the chairs of council committees and members chosen to sit on outside bodies such as Transport for Greater Manchester or the emergency service authorities.

The most lucrative committee posts are the chair of planning, which pays a special responsibility allowance of (£10,865) and chair of licensing and regulation committees (£13,419), both held by Labour member for Pemberton, Coun Paul Prescott.

Wigan’s basic allowance rate last year of £12,059 was second in Greater Manchester behind only central Manchester (16,043), more than Tameside (11,640), Bolton (11,082) and Salford (10,404) and the five remaining councils.