An independent panel have proposed increasing East Devon District Councillors' allowances for the first time since 2008, to a level more in line with similar councils in Devon and across England.
The panel recognised the crucial role that councillors play in shaping the future of East Devon, and in a time when residents are worried about the cost of living, they felt this financial support may allow a more diverse and qualified pool of candidates to put themselves forward to serve their community. The decision to adjust allowances comes after careful consideration, reflecting councillors’ dedication, hard work, the evolving demands of the role, and the challenges faced by local government.
Councillor Paul Arnott, Leader of East Devon District Council and Democratic Alliance group leader said:
"Members allowances were last increased 15 years ago in 2008. It is a great honour to be elected to a council, however it is becoming increasingly hard to attract a diverse range of candidates. Many rightly fear that the hundreds of hours per year spent on council business will be detrimental to their household finances. These increases go a small way to address this."
Councillor Colin Brown, Leader of the Conservative group added:
“By offering a more competitive allowance, it is hoped that more young people will be enticed to become district councillors, bringing new energy and ideas to local government and ensuring its continued relevance and effectiveness.”
Councillor Tony McCollum, Leader of The Independents group said:
"To be a councillor we accept that the role is voluntary, but however, to carry out the role we need various equipment and a base to work from which costs. We cannot expect councillor's to cover all of these costs, which is why we receive an allowance.
The last time this was reviewed was back in 2008 and as we all know prices have changed considerably since then, which in time can stop many who are happy to volunteer as a councillor but can't afford or accept to cover the cost. So, its now time to put that right."
Councillor Dan Wilson, Leader of the Labour group added:
"Pay increases for councillors are never popular with the public but even with this increase, I don't think any councillor could be accused of performing the role for financial gain. There is a reason the majority of councillors are either retired or of retirement age. Hopefully, increased remuneration for the hours councillors put in, will make the role more viable for people of all ages in the future."
Councillor Peter Faithfull, Leader of the Independent Councillor group said:
"By bringing the councillors allowance up to date will hopefully encourage more candidates to come forward."
The recommendations of the independent panel approved by the EDDC Full Council meeting on Wednesday, 6 December will backdate the basic allowance for all councillors to the May 2023 election, with the special responsibility allowance backdated to 1, June 2023.