More Cream In New Year For Councillors As Staff Are Made Redundant?

From Our West Lancashire

“West Lancashire councillors receive the highest basic allowance of any Borough in Lancashire and have done for almost 20 years. There are signs that some senior councillors in the Labour and Conservative groups might like to increase the bill for councillor pay still higher.

“Our West Lancashire has published our submission to the panel looking at the matter and we’ve asked the Labour and Conservative groups to do likewise and publish their submissions to the panel so that residents can see the stance they are taking. To date they haven’t done so.

“In January it is likely that 31 staff will be issued with redundancy notices – seven compulsory. In total, 39 staff are likely to lose their jobs from the recent restructuring agreed by councillors”.

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But OWLs suggest that in January it is likely that 31 staff will be issued with redundancy notices – seven compulsory. In total, 39 staff are likely to lose their jobs from the recent restructuring agreed by councillors.

“Councillor allowances or “pay” in West Lancashire is voted on and agreed by… you guessed it, councillors themselves. Our West Lancashire believes that this process should be more transparent than it is. That’s why we are publishing our submission to the IRP for all to read. What’s more we are calling on the Labour and Conservative groups to also publish their stance on councillor allowances by releasing their submissions to the IRP.

“There is though a small group of outside people who advise on allowances. They are known as the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP). This month, they have asked each of the three political groups for their stance on councillor allowances as they conduct their review before providing their advice. Submission To The Independent Remuneration Panel West Lancashire Borough Council  from The Our West Lancashire Group Of Councillors.

“The panel requested the views of the Our West Lancashire Group on five matters relating to the Members’ Allowance Scheme at West Lancashire Borough Council.  Our comments relating to these five areas are detailed below. 1. Basic Allowance – The long-standing view of the Our West Lancashire group is that the basic allowance at West Lancashire Borough Council remains significantly out of line with other Lancashire councils. The allowance of £4842 per year is the highest of any Lancashire borough council and has been so for almost 20 years.

“In February 2019 the basic allowances for Lancashire Boroughs were: West Lancashire £4842 Hyndburn £4634 Chorley £4422.61 Wyre £4137 Preston £3831 Fylde £3750 Rossendale £3342 Lancaster £3383.5 Pendle £3000 Ribble Valley £3643 Burnley £3500 South Ribble £4605.25. Average £3924.2. The Lancashire average of £3924.20 is more than 23% lower than the West Lancashire figure of £4842.

“In the absence of regionally or nationally set figures for councillor allowances, Our West Lancashire believe that tracking the average allowance level for Lancashire councils is an appropriate mechanism to determine the basic allowance and would ask you to consider introducing this mechanism. It would make an annual saving of almost £50,000 a year at a time when approximately 38 council employees face voluntary or compulsory redundancy.

“This proposal also has the support of 86.5% of local residents in our most recent survey (October 2019) on this matter.

“Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) The use of percentages of the basic allowance to calculate the respective special responsibility allowances has the advantages of ease of administration and understanding. The Our West Lancashire Group states our opposition to any increase in the total special responsibility allowances paid.

“The recent Sustainable Organisation Review Project (SORP) final report indicated that cabinet members were to take on a greater strategic role under the new management structure. However, senior councillors have always set the strategic direction of the council under previous structures. Councillors decide and officers implement. There is no evidence that this will be significantly different under the new structure.

Verging on the obscene?

“Given that the SORP is resulting in approximately 38 council employees leaving the council through voluntary or compulsory redundancy in the period between November 2019 and March 2021, it would rightly be viewed by external observers as verging on the “obscene” to increase special responsibility allowances while this process was underway. Any such increases in SRA would reduce public confidence in local government in West Lancashire and impact negatively on staff morale which is already fragile as evidenced by the staff feedback to the SORP report provided to councillors in July 2019.

“The Our West Lancashire Group reiterates our opposition to any increase in the total special responsibility allowances paid.

“Childcare and Dependent Carers Allowance. It is time the rate at which this allowance is paid was reviewed as it has remained unchanged for a number of years. While it is very rarely claimed, the Our West Lancashire group believes that local residents should not be deterred from standing for election to council by the costs of caring from children or dependent family members while attending official meetings in their role as a councillor.

“We would support this allowance being paid at the living wage hourly rate which is currently £9.30 per hour. As the living wage is reviewed and indexed annually, setting the allowance in line with the Living Wage would also future proof this element of the scheme.

“Travelling and Subsistence Allowances – no comments. General – no additional comments”.

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