COUNCILLORS could be hit with an allowance freeze for the next 12 months.
The basic salary for all 69 Kirklees councillors will remain at £12,566 if the recommendation of the Members Allowances Independent Review Panel is approved at Full Council in March.
In 2008/09 the basic allowance was £12,272 and councillors accepted a 2.3% increase for 2009/10, bringing the allowance to its current level of £12,566.
Special responsibility allowances (SRA) – which covers the leader, deputy leader, Cabinet, panel and committee members – will also remain at their current rate.
The only increase suggested is for the rate of dependants carers’ allowance from April 1 of 1% to be paid at £5.63 per hour.
The allowance freeze is something that has received cross-party support, with party leaders saying it was the right thing to do.
Council leader Clr Mehboob Khan said: “In this day and age with significant pressures on public finance, councillors of all four major political parties are in agreement that we would not want to increase our allowance.
“The ethical decision is to freeze this for at least this coming year.
“This would set an example to others and allow for public finance to be spent on frontline services.
“The council is currently reviewing its administration and we expect a third of management costs to be reduced – if staff are taking the pain we should share that with them.”
Conservative leader Clr Jim Dodds agreed, saying: “I don’t think this will make a difference to our work as councillors – people aren’t councillors because of the allowance that comes with it, they’re councillors because they want to put something back into the community.
“We are in difficult times and I think it’s only right that our allowances get a freeze in this climate.”
Liberal Democrat leader Clr Kath Pinnock agreed, saying: “As councillors we see the difficulties our constituents are going through so this is the right thing to do.
“The independent review group are just that – they are independent of any council and if they recommend allowances should be frozen we should accept it.”
Green Party leader Clr Andrew Cooper said they could go ever further and examine the special responsibility allowances to see if there are more savings to be made.
Clr Cooper added: “The freeze is something we expected and it’s the only sensible option.
“Given what we’re asking our staff to go through it is important that councillors lead by example and for us to expect an allowance increase would be foolhardy.
“I think the next area we should look at is the SRA and examine if there are savings to be made for the council taxpayer.”
A report presented to the Corporate Governance and Audit Committee, Panel yesterday says that the basic allowance recognises the time a councillor should devote to the role, which on average is 80 hours a month of which the first 20 are reflected as voluntary.
All 69 Kirklees councillors will consider and vote on the proposal at the Full Council meeting on March 23.