Leicester City Council members to consider expenses report

By Alexander Hodgkins-Jones

Leicester City Council will consider the findings of the Independent Remuneration Panel’s February report into members’ allowances at a meeting later today (MAR19).

In-authority travel allowances are set to be the major recommended reduction.

The Local Government Act 2000 requires English councils to establish an Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) to periodically review the allowances and expenses of councillors.

The meeting will be held at 5pm in the Council Chamber in Leicester’s Town Hall.

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, it is unclear how many councillors will turn up.

The IRP has not recommended any sweeping changes for councillors’ allowances, stating that both the basic allowance and special responsibility allowances of members fell within the median range of councils across the country.

Although they did find that the £1,205 paid to all elected members for travel was “excessive”.

This money in-authority and subsistence allowance is a blanket payment paid directly to all LCC councillors as a lump sum and covers all travel and subsistence costs for activities within Leicester, including refreshments.

The size and manner of the payment was an issue raised during the previous meeting of the IRP, as many members live close to City Hall and have travel passes.

Councillors can also park for free.

Despite continuing to recommend a lump sum payment approach, the IRP has suggested a reduction of more than 15 per cent for the in-authority travel and subsistence allowance, to a flat £1,000 payment per year.

This ongoing issue will be looked at again when the IRP reconvenes.

The decision to set up an IRP was made at a council meeting on June 13 last year.

15 members and officers met with the IRP, including Leicester City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby.

The findings of the report are non-binding as English councils are free to set their own allowance levels.

However, Councillors are expected to agree to the recommendations of the report during the meeting, where the Gender Pay Gap and Contract Procedure Rules will also be discussed.

The IRP was reconvened last June as the four-year period between allowance recommendations would have elapsed later this year.

A report to LCC from the IRP was last produced in March 2016.

The February report was chaired by Dr Declan Hall and published after a series of meetings at City Hall.

Any changed based on recommendations contained within the report will be implemented from April 1 2020.

The full findings of the IRP report can be read here.

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