THE basic allowance paid to Isle of Wight councillors has been frozen for another year, but senior members have accepted an additional pay rise.
Members last night (Wednesday) voted to accept the recommendations of an Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP), to freeze the basic allowance at £7,903 for the sixth year running, but to increase the special responsibility allowances paid on top to senior members.
Council leader Cllr Ian Stephens' additional allowance has been hiked from £11,549 to £15,806, deputy leader Cllr Steve Stubbings' from £7,306 to £9,879, and overview and scrutiny chairman Cllr Geoff Lumley's from £5,532 to £7,903.
The allowance paid to executive — formerly cabinet — members has been increased from £7,306 to £7,903.
Cllr Bob Seely questioned the wisdom of accepting a pay rise when hundreds of council staff were facing redundancy — he said the timing 'made him wince' — but others said they relied on their allowance.
Cllr Julie Jones-Evans said unless people were paid an allowance, only independently wealthy and retired people would stand for election.
Cllr Stephens said he had taken a voluntary pay cut after the election and was still paid significantly less than his predecessor David Pugh, who received an additional leader's allowance of £23,709, on top of the basic allowance.
The total bill for members' allowances amounted to £471,696.
Max Morrison, chairman of the IRP, a panel made up of members of the public, said the increases were 'fully justified' in light of the additional responsibilities shouldered by senior members.
The basic allowance was above the regional average of £6,182 but below the £8,677 average for unitary authorities, he said, and the leader's additional allowance was below both the £17,626 regional average and the £20,176 unitary authority average.
Members' allowances will be reviewed again in the autumn.