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New West Suffolk Council allowance scheme could see basic payments increase but overall cost go down by £30,500

Revised councillors' allowances for the new West Suffolk Council could save residents 4p each per year, if the proposals win backing.

An independent panel has recommended basic allowances for each councillor should increase to £5,900 after the new council is formed in April.

Currently, St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Forest Heath District Council each have different allowance schemes to renumerate councillors for carrying out their roles.

West Suffolk House. (7126489)
West Suffolk House. (7126489)

The independent renumeration panel, which looked at councillors' roles and payments made by other similar authorities, has proposed a scheme which is 5.7 per cent – or £30,500 – cheaper than the previous total. The new cost would be £2.10 per resident a year, compared with £2.14.

Richard Cooper, panel chairman, said: “After looking at the evidence we believe the total allowances should cost less than the original combined budget. But we also understand the heavy commitment needed to be a councillor, which is a 24-hours-a-day role helping to solve complex issues and dealing with very vulnerable people.

"We believe our recommendations represent good value for money.”

Leadership-level allowances could also increase, to £14,750 for council leader, £8,850 for deputy leader and £7,375 for cabinet members.

Meanwhile, the roles of chairman/deputy chairman (and equivalent mayor roles) could be set at £7,375/£3,894.

The panel also made recommendations on expenses for childcare and specialist support care which councillors might require to undertake their roles, as well as travel and subsistence allowances.

The review concluded broadband allowances should be incorporated within the basic allowance.

Members of the West Suffolk Shadow Authority will discuss the report on Tuesday. It is expected the new allowances would come into effect after elections on May 6, while the panel recommended a further review within the next civic year.

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