Northumberland's Â£1.2m bill for councillors' allowances
New research has revealed that Â£699million has been paid out nationwide to councillors over the last three years, although Northumberland's bill has decreased over that period.
According to the data collated by the TaxPayers' Alliance, the basic allowance for a Northumberland county councillor was Â£12,624 in 2012/13, Â£12,749 in 2013/14 and Â£12,819 last year. The leader's allowance remained constant over that period - Â£27,000. Across the country, at least 238 councils raised the basic allowance.
The total bill for Northumberland's 67 councillors, including allowances and expenses, was Â£1,291,608 in 2013/13, dropping to Â£1,266,112 in 2013/14 before rising again to Â£1,282,060 last year, although this is below the 2012/13 figure. Nationwide during that time, at least 208 councils raised the total bill for allowances and expenses.
All councillors in the UK are entitled to a basic allowance. Additionally, those who hold positions within the council are usually entitled to special responsibility allowances (SRAs). Councillors are also able to claim for incidental expenses such as mileage and subsistence on top of this, while arrangements for IT or carers’ allowances vary from council to council.
In 2014/15, Durham had the highest basic allowance in the North East – Â£13,300, while Hartlepool had the lowest at Â£5,825. Sunderland had the highest special responsibility allowance in the region at Â£37,667.
If every council had paid the median value of allowances in each type of authority, at least Â£113million would have been saved over the three-year period.
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Taxpayers will be shocked to discover the rate at which councillors' allowances have risen over the last three years, despite local authorities pleading poverty and in many cases raising council tax or cutting services.
"It goes to show that not every council has prioritised finding savings or cutting taxes over awarding local politicians above inflation allowances. With the nation's finances yet to be fixed, councillors across the country will continue to have to make difficult decisions. In order for them to have the moral authority to carry out that very important job, councillors must show restraint when it comes to their own taxpayer-funded allowances and ease the burden on hard-pressed families."