Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Council Leaders Set for Bumper Rise in Allowances; Dan O'Donoghue Local Government Reporter Dan.Odonoghue@trinitymirror.Com

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Council Leaders Set for Bumper Rise in Allowances; Dan O'Donoghue Local Government Reporter Dan.Odonoghue@trinitymirror.Com

Article excerpt

CITY leader Nick Forbes is in line for a bumper rise in his yearly council allowance. The increase, which has been recommended by Newcastle's Independent Remuneration Panel and is still subject to approval, would mean an annual take-home sum of PS36,000 before tax - PS16,000 more than the city's average salary.

Under the panel's proposals, the Newcastle City Council leader would not be the only elected official in for a rise - cabinet members, who are responsible for things such as bins, libraries, and investment in the city, could see their allowance rise from PS6,207 to PS9,000.

Coun Forbes currently receives a special responsibility allowance (SRA) of PS16,550, set to rise to PS27,000. He would also receive the increased allowance of PS9,000.

If the proposals are signed off at the next meeting of the authority on February 1, every city councillor, of which there are 78, would also receive a rise of PS200.

Taken together, with rises for city leaders, committee chairs, opposition leaders and councillors, the proposal will see an additional PS84,000 of Newcastle taxpayers' money spent on allowances.

A city council spokesman said: "In line with Government regulations, members' allowances must be reviewed annually by a panel of independent lay people. This year the Independent Remuneration Panel have recommended a series of changes to allowances.

"The final decision on whether to accept the recommendations in full, amend them in part or reject them will rest with councillors when full council meets on Wednesday."

Eric Richards, who is chair of the Independent Remuneration Panel and authored the report recommending the increases, said that Newcastle was a major UK city and elected representatives needed to be paid to reflect that.

He said: "The last increase in allowances was in 2009; there has been a freeze in place since then. …

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