Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

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Cabinet Decision: 14th February 2008
Title of Item/Report
Members' Allowances
Record of the Decision
Members noted that the Remuneration Panel had been requested to undertake a review of Members' allowances. The review covered the scheme for the current year (2007/08) and proposals for a new scheme for next year (2008/09). It included one to one discussions with leading Members and a written consultation process with all Members. Outcomes were fed back into and informed the Remuneration Panel's work and resulting options. In addition the Panel received details of other local authorities' principal allowances.

The Remuneration Panel's report of the review it had undertaken was provided to Members. This included:-

• the main elements of the current approved scheme for this year 2007/08.

• the Remuneration Panel's three options in relation to each of the key allowances contained in the current year's (2007/08) Scheme.

the Remuneration Panel's three options for a new scheme in 2008/09.

Members were also provided with details of the Council's Unitary Family allowances for 2006/07. As indicated these were used by the Remuneration Panel to formulate their three options in relation to this year's allowances, and as regards an allowances scheme for 2008/09.

It was explained that the Remuneration Panel's options had been discussed with Group Leaders and were also reported to and discussed at the Members' Advisory Panel meeting on 17 December 2007. The following thoughts and suggestions arose from these discussions:-

a. all Group Leaders to receive the same SRA;
b. all Group Leaders to receive a SRA, but on a proportionality (group size) basis;
c. only certain Group Leaders to receive a SRA, with a cut off point below which other Group Leaders would not receive a SRA;
d. a combination of (b) and (c);
e. recommending option 3 for 2008/09;
f. recommending option 1 for 2007/08; option 2 for 2008;09 and option 3 for 2009/2010;
g. recommending option 2 for 2007/08 and 2008/09;
h. no change to allowances for 2008/09 other than inflationary increase;
i. increases to allowances inappropriate and untimely in view of job evaluation/single status review.
j. significant increases would give rise to poor public perception and risk of alienating people;
k. basis allowance should be increased;
l. the Remuneration Panel's report was produced before the recent publication of the report of the Councillors' Commission - Members Remuneration - models, issues, incentives and barriers. This needs to be considered.

It was evident from Members' consideration of the Panel's work to date that there were widely differing views on the most appropriate way forward. It was also the case that the Remuneration Panel did not have the benefit of the report from the Councillors Commission.

In light of this, it was proposed that the Remuneration Panel be asked to review their findings, taking into account:-

(i) the views and suggestions outlined at paragraph 4 of the report;
(ii) the outcome of further discussions with Group Leaders;
(iii) any additional views from Members; and
(iv) a consideration of the Councillors' Commission report previously referred to.

The Remuneration Panel would be asked to complete their work and finalise their report in order to enable a decision to be made by Council provisionally in May/June.

In the meantime, the following interim changes to members' allowances were proposed:-

2007/08
An inflationary backdated increase for basic, SRAs and Co-optees allowances.

An inflation increased backdated SRA for the Leaders of the Labour Group and Thornaby Independent Association.

2008/09
A continuation of the Scheme for 2007/08 as amended above.

The revised scheme for 2007/08 and the scheme for 2008/09 was set out for Members. Following the further proposed Remuneration Panel review any agreed changes to allowances would be able to be incorporated into the Scheme for 2008/09 and backdated to 1 April 2008.

RECOMMENDED to Council that:-

1. The Remuneration Panel's report be received and the Panel be thanked formally for their work to date;

2. The Remuneration Panel be asked to undertake a further review and report back to Cabinet and the Council, taking into account the factors identified in paragraph 6 of the Cabinet report and as required by paragraph 7 of the report;

3. A revised Members' Allowances Scheme be approved for 2007/08 as specified at paragraph 8 of, and Appendix 3 to the Cabinet report.

4. A Members' Allowances Scheme for 2008/09 be introduced in accordance with paragraphs 8 and 9 of the Cabinet report; and

5. Subject to the approval of the above recommendations 3 and 4, the additional resources which are required to fund the revised scheme for 2007/08 be provided and the resources identified in the report for the purposes of funding a scheme for 2008/09, together with any revisions to that scheme which may be agreed as a result of the Remuneration Panel's second report, be earmarked in the current budget setting process.
Reasons for the Decision
The Members' Allowances Regulations required local authorities to revise existing Schemes and make new Schemes following a review by and consideration of recommendations from an Independent Remuneration Panel.

Given the differing opinions on the proposed scheme for 2008/09 and any revisions to the current scheme, together with the fact that the Council's Remuneration Panel did not have the benefit of seeing the Councillors Commission report on members' remuneration, the Cabinet report recommends a further Panel review, inflationary increases to the current year's scheme and a continuation of those allowances for 2008/09 pending the Panel's proposed review.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
As per the Remuneration Panel report
Declared (Cabinet Member) Conflicts of Interest
All Cabinet Members present declared a personal non prejudicial interest in the item as they would all receive an allowance(s) under the scheme.
Details of any Dispensations
Not Applicable
Date and Time by which Call In must be executed
Not Applicable
Attachment

Date of Publication: 18 February 2008


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