Documentation seen by LW seem to indicate that one of the first orders of business for the newly elected Labour council of Tower Hamlets is to award themselves increases in their Special Responsibility Allowances (SRA) meaning a total cost to residents of £377,000 a year.
No increase for Mayor
While Mayor John Biggs is not taking any increased SRA the main cost hit is to the eight Labour Cabinet members which, with an individual SRA increase of £6,000 each, means the total costs will be £160,000 a year.
Tower Hamlets Council increases in Special Responsibility Allowances
|Title||Current||Proposed||Increase||Total Increase PA||Total Cost PA|
|Statutory Deputy Mayor||1||£16,000||£30,000||£14,000||£14,000||£30,000|
|Leader of any Opposition Group *||1||£0||£5,000||£5,000||£5,000||£5,000|
|* Having less than 10% of total Council seats.||£121,000||£377,000|
|Note: Increases unconfirmed by Council at time of publication.|
Councillors are normally paid a basic allowance of £10,938 a year apart from the Mayor who is only paid an SRA.
In addition to this some councillors are paid an extra responsibility allowance if they have extra duties such as being a Deputy Mayor, Cabinet member or are Chair of an important committee.
These SRA increases are still below that of the 2018 Independent Panel Recommendations:
- Mayor £85,162
- Deputy Mayor £36,971 – £43,460
- Leader of main opposition group £16,207 – £29,797
- Cabinet Members £36,917 – £43,460
At the time of publication neither Tower Hamlets Council or Tower Hamlets Labour Party could confirm the increase in allowances.
Where is the magic money tree?
“Labour played on people’s fears of Rahman-style politics to make sure they got a landslide majority on the Council,” said Elaine Bagshaw, Liberal Democrats, Tower Hamlets.
“It’s telling that the first thing they do with the majority is this – miraculously finding an extra £100,000 per year to pay themselves more.
I’d love to know where Labour are keeping their magic money tree – I’d like to pay off my mortgage.”
Update Thursday 17th May
Statement from Mayor Biggs
“We are proposing an increase in the Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs) for Cabinet Members and Deputy Mayors.
This proposal will be taken to the Council’s Annual General Meeting next week,” said John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets in a statement to LW.
“We need to attract a wide pool of talent to the Cabinet, and ensure their allowance recognises the time commitment of the role and the impact it will have on councillors’ ability to take other work or provide childcare.
Cabinet members are expected to dedicate at least two days a week to the role and Deputy Mayors three days a week. The allowance needs to reflect the workloads and responsibilities of the role.”
“Our proposal reflects the fact our allowances have been historically low, and even after this increase they will still be below the levels recommended by the London-wide independent panel.”
Related Internet Links
- Members’ Allowances Scheme[PDF] – London Borough of Tower Hamlets
- Members’ allowance payments – London Borough of Tower Hamlets
- Remuneration of Councillors in London 2018 [PDF] – Report of the Independent Panel
- Become a councillor – Gov.uk
Even with the proposed SRA increases the new allowances for those Tower Hamlets Councillors with extra responsibilities are still fairly modest by central London standards and far lower than salaries for senior council officers.
Though the role of councillor is supposed to be part-time the best councillors frequently treat it as a full time role.
This is at the other end of the scale from those councillors who, to be blunt, just get elected for the basic allowance and then do not do a damn thing.
With the huge Labour victory there are many new councillors and only time will tell who are genuine representatives of those who elected them and who are just slackers.
Quite how residents are supposed to tell one from the other is anyone’s guess.