ISLE of Wight Councillors have voted to increase their allowances by two per cent.

They approved a recommendation by the Independent Remuneration Panel at last night's (Wednesday) full council meeting.

It means the basic allowance will rise from £7,700 to £7,854.

Some committee chairs will also receive a slight increase in their special responsibility allowances.

A new allowance has been introduced for leaders of a group of five or more. They will be paid £785.

Council leader Cllr Dave Stewart will receive £23,562 — comprising the basic and leader's allowance of £15,708.

He will not receive the £4,712 allowance for his role as chair of the Hampshire Police and Crime Panel, as members can only claim one special responsibility allowance.

Finance cabinet member Cllr Stuart Hutchinson said although allowances had increased, they remained lower than three years ago when members agreed to take a pay cut.

Three councillors voted against the increase and three abstained.

Ryde Cllr Michael Lilley (independent) said he could not support a rise when so many people on the Isle of Wight were living in poverty.

Newport Cllr Matthew Price (Conservative) said he ran a business employing some 20 people and could not afford to increase their pay, so he could not support an increase in his own allowance.

However, several councillors said their allowances should reflect their commitment to the role and the hours they worked.

Cllrs Clare Modsell (Con) and Julia Baker Smith (Labour) said allowances were vital to attract a more diverse range of councillors.

A working mum who relied on her allowance, Cllr Baker Smith said: "If you are going to have diversity in this chamber there ought to be a level of remuneration that allows people to do the job.

"Otherwise you will only have retired white male councillors of wealth."