Hounslow Council will meet on March 2 to finalise its delayed response to the 2018 report from the Independent Panel on the Remuneration of Councillors in London.
Published: Tuesday, 23rd February 2021
That panel - which currently comprises Sir Rodney Brooke CBE DL (chair), Anne Watts CBE and Steve Bundred - was established by London Councils to consider the levels of remuneration paid to London councillors.
The full Borough Council meeting will consider the ‘Constitutional Review and the Member Scheme of Allowances Review’ report, delayed from March 2020 because of the pandemic’s initial impact on council meetings.
The 2018 Independent Panel report makes clear that reasons for special responsibility allowances should be clearly set out in local allowances schemes for positions where there are significant differences in the time requirements and levels of responsibility from those generally expected of a councillor.
In reviewing Hounslow’s local allowances scheme, the report, which is part of a wider constitutional review setting out expectations of elected members, takes into account both the considerations and recommendations of the 2018 Independent Panel report, and benchmarking comparing Hounslow’s current SRA rates to those of other London Borough Councils.
If agreed, the package will partly level up Hounslow’s member allowances with other councils and see increases in special responsibility allowances for some posts, including Mayor, Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Mayor, and the inclusion of an SRA for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
The report is intended to ensure a fair and proportionate local scheme with allowances in line with those of similar or comparable roles in other boroughs. That will mean increases for roles where previously paid amounts have been identified as unjustifiably low when compared to the Independent Panel recommendations, and the London average.
Modernisation measures, which follow recommendations in the 2018 report, will see the introduction of a continuation of SRA payments in cases of sickness and of parental leave, on the same terms as council employees, enabling Hounslow to meet the LGA and MHCLG ‘21st Century Councils’ Equalities Toolkit’.
Cllr Steve Curran, Leader of Hounslow Council said:
“The review makes clear we have fallen significantly behind other London authorities and need to make our scheme fair for all. When our Mayor’s role attracts only slightly over half the London average, we have a challenge. Worse, when our Conservative opposition leader receives less than a fifth of the going rate, we have to put things right. Even now, proposed increases don’t take roles to the London average, as we are also careful to maintain our hard-earned reputation for sound financial management.
“We are fortunate in Hounslow in the quality of our councillors. But the Independent Report shows it is increasingly hard across London to recruit people to stand as councillors and low allowances and the time needed are seen as major disincentives. But as the report also makes clear, the role of a councillor should be open to all, regardless of background, and these first steps towards bringing Hounslow’s allowances to the same level as the rest of London are key towards that ambition”.
The CEX523 Council’s Constitutional Review and the Member Scheme of Allowances Review report can be accessed in full here.