You are viewing content from Radio Exe Plymouth. Would you like to make this your preferred location?
Listen Live

North Devon councillors agree their own pay rise

Thursday, 23 November 2023 19:25

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

North Devon councillors receive about £100 a week for a 12-hour week

They'll get £250 more a year

North Devon councillors have given themselves what they say is a “fair” pay rise which takes account of the cost of living crisis and the need to attract new members.

The council has taken the “middle ground” with a £250 annual increase which will bring their basic allowance to £5,421 this year.

North Devon is currently third from the bottom in the table of earnings for Devon’s district authorities, with Mid Devon having the highest basic allowance of £6,000.

An independent panel recommendation to increase pay by £250 plus the staff pay percentage award of 3.8 per cent was refused.

The panel wanted the council to move towards an “aspirational” figure which better reflected their workload and responsibilities.

Based on a formula of 12 hours of work a week and the average hourly gross pay in North Devon of £13.90, plus a percentage reduction to reflect the voluntary element of the role, the panel set the aspirational figure at £5,810.

Recognising this is a time of financial difficulty and challenging service delivery issues to the community, it was suggested that increases should be incremental over three years to get to that figure by the end of 2026.

But councillors decided on an alternative ”sensible” option of a smaller increase over the next three years saying they had to “be careful.”

They agreed to a further £250 increase for 2024/25 and £140 rise for 2025/26 or the staff pay award, whichever is higher.

Cllr Caroline Leaver (Lib Dem, Newport) said: “We should take the middle ground. We need to recognise the cost of living crisis and be recompensed for the time being a councillor takes up. A lot of my time is spent on council business outside the committee room.”

Cllr Graham Bell (Lib Dem, Braunton East) said 75 per cent of parish councils did not have enough councillors and a pay rise is “a minor way” to encourage more people into local government.

Cllr Matthew Bushell (Ind, South Molton) said it was a difficult decision. “We are in real danger here of ultimately devaluing councillors. A lot of people put in a lot of unseen time on their work,” he said.

Cllr Helen Walker (Lib Dem, Bickington) said councillors were experiencing the cost of living crisis like everyone else. She said balancing work with being a councillor is not easy.

“We don’t want any councillors to give up because they can’t afford it,” she said.

Cllr Frank Biederman (Ind, Fremington) said North Devon is “at rock bottom” in  pay for lead members and portfolio holders, who currently receive £2,585 on top of the basic allowance, compared to more than £8,000 in Teignbridge. The difference in pay for the council leaders is more than £7,000.

But he added: “We want to minimise the cost to the public, so it will be with a heavy heart that I support this.”

More from Local News

Listen Live
On Air Now Colin Slade Playing Gold Prince