Proposed pay rise for Ipswich borough councillors sparks anger for tax campaigners
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Councillors in Ipswich are set to give themselves an above-inflation pay rise to reward their “sacrifices” and help recruit more young mothers, the Star can reveal.
An independent panel had recommended in a report a 7% rise to boost the total councillor allowance budget from £291,950 to £314,020 for 2016/17.
Council leaders yesterday told the Star that this proposal will be rejected at a cabinet meeting tonight and replaced with a motion to increase the budget by £7,000, a 2.4% rise. The predicted inflation rate for the fourth quarter of 2016 is 1.4%.
Backbenchers will get the biggest share of the rise.
David Ellesmere, leader of Ipswich Borough Council (IBC), said councillors have not had a pay rise for over 10 years and are among the lowest paid locally. The basic pay rate of £3,745 is the fourth lowest out of 14 borough councils in Suffolk and Norfolk. Norwich City Council, the second highest, pays £6,000.
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It is understood that if the cross-party approved motion passes, the basic pay would increase to £4,000.
But John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “(IBC) have done well to keep their allowances low over the past few years but that shouldn’t give them licence to raise the bill this year.
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“Council tax still represents a huge outlay from family budgets and taxpayers have every right to expect their money to go to frontline services and not councillors pockets.”
Mr Ellesmere said: “Nobody became a councillor for the money. They did it to improve Ipswich. But it does take a lot of time, there are sacrifices that councillors make and I think it is right that there is some sort of recognition for that through their allowances.
“Clearly, I would not expect in any job to continue doing that job for the same amount of money that they did 10 years ago. That is something we have got to address.” He said it would be a “better return” for taxpayers.
Conservatives group leader Nadia Cenci said: “As we have not had a pay rise for 10 years, I believe backbenchers deserve a small increase.
“I want to attract younger mothers into the job. There are a lot of us wise old owls, but we need more younger people who know about the difficulties of having a young family, pay bills, and will bring a different perspective.”