North Yorkshire councillors voted to increase their allowances by 10% this week .
The vote, which was held at a full council meeting in Northallerton, proved contentious with some members of the council claiming it was immoral due to the ongoing cost of living crisis.
Others argued that the increase amounted to a “real terms pay cut”.
It represented an ongoing debate over how elected councillors should be paid for their service.
Here is what you need to know about how North Yorkshire councillors are paid
How are councillors paid?
Councillors on North Yorkshire Council are not paid a salary. They are paid an allowance, which each elected member can decide whether to accept all or part of.
Some offer to donate parts of their allowance to charity.
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The purpose of the allowance is to cover expenses which come with the commitments of a councillor, such as time and travel to meetings for council business on behalf of their constituents.
They are not paid a salary like council officers and directors.
How much is the allowance?
Prior to this week’s vote, all 90 councillors were offered a basic allowance of £15,550.
If a councillor has a special responsibility, such as the leader of the council or a cabinet member, then they are paid an additional allowance.
For example, the leader of North Yorkshire Council has a special responsibility allowance of £39,654 and the chair of the council receives an additional £12,142.
Who decides how much the allowance is?
An independent renumeration panel meets every year to review councillors’ allowances.
The panel, which consists of three members, publicises its recommendations.
Those recommendations are then discussed by the council’s executive before going before a full council meeting to be voted on.
Why did councillors vote to increase their allowances?
On Thursday, a full council meeting of North Yorkshire Council voted to increase allowances by 10%.
It means the councillors’ annual basic allowance will be increased from £15,500 to £17,000.
There will be a two per cent increase in the special responsibility allowances paid, with the exception of sessional payments to chairs of the licensing sub-committees.
Panel chair Keith Trotter cited the increased workload caused by the creation of North Yorkshire Council, inflation and the cost of living as reasons for the recommendation.
However, Liberal Democrats voted against the recommendation on the grounds that there was a cost of living crisis and it would not be right to support the increase.
Other councillors, such as Cllr Andy Brown argued that it represented a “real terms pay cut” as it prevented working people from being able to become councillors.
Conservative Cllr Carl Les, leader of the council, said the independent panel had considered the current cost of living when making the decision to recommend the rise.