Councillors vote to give themselves 4% pay rise

The council spends approximately £1.25million on councillors’ allowances a year

By Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

Waltham Forest councillors voted last week to give themselves a 4% pay rise, in line with a recent salary increase for other council staff.

All councillors will now be paid a “basic allowance” of £12,044 a year, with additional sums ranging from around £5,000 to around £50,000 paid to those with extra responsibilities. 

Councillors with the most responsibilities will see their pay increase by more than £2,000 a year, while those who receive only a basic allowance will receive an extra £468.

At a full council meeting on 28th April, the Labour group voted in favour of the 4% increase, while the minority Conservative group objected.

Labout councillor Jack Phipps, who chairs the audit & governance committee and thus receives an extra £10,904 on top of the basic allowance, said his party believed the increase was “the most sensible measure”.

He said: “[Increasing councillors’ pay is] potentially quite unpopular but, fundamentally, it’s a question as to whether or not this is a vocation, whether or not this is a full-time or part-time job.”

Phipps, who is a regional organiser for the GMB Union, said the allowances would increase at the same rate as pay for local council workers, after an increase agreed with their unions earlier this year. 

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Staff won a blanket payrise of £1,925, representing a 10.5% increase for lower-paid staff and a 4% increase for those highest-paid.

Conservative Tim James, a senior recruitment advisor, said he felt “particularly uncomfortable” voting for the pay rise two months after Labour approved a council tax hike.

Cllr James, who only receives the basic allowance, accepted some councillors work at the town hall “on a full-time basis” but pledged to donate the extra £468 he will receive to charity.

The highest paid councillor in Waltham Forest is leader Grace Williams, who receives £66,564 a year.

Conservative leader Emma Best is paid £31,324 for her role as leader of the opposition but also receives an annual salary of £60,416 for her work as a London Assembly Member.

Waltham Forest’s two deputy leaders, Clyde Loakes and Ahsan Khan, both receive a total of £46,937, while the six other cabinet members are paid £39,304 each.

Alongside their roles overseeing key council policy areas, some cabinet members maintain other part or full-time roles.

This includes cabinet member for children and young people Alistair Strathern, who works at the Bank of England, and cabinet member for jobs, social inclusion and equalities Vicky Ashworth, who also works for the Greater London Authority and the Judicial Appointments Commission.

The council’s eight scrutiny chairs are also paid an additional £10,904 on top of their basic allowance, while vice-chairs receive £5,731.

In total, the council spends around £1.25million on councillors’ allowances a year.

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