Powys council cabinet plan nearly 50% rise in allowance

Council leaders in Powys could see their annual allowance rise by nearly 50% as they prepare to switch to a cabinet system.

Powys council is moving away from a ruling board of 15 to a cabinet of 10 members in May.

But there are plans to spread the money spent on 15 councillors among the 10 members, and the leader's allowance could rise by £7,800 to £24,092.

The council's head of finance said the rise reflected an increase in workload.

But Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies said the proposal seemed "insensitive" at a time when public sector pay was frozen and services were being cut.

If the plans are approved by Powys council on 28 April, the new council leader's special responsibility allowance (SRA) could increase from £16,292 to £24,092.

The leader would also earn a basic allowance of £11,925, which all councillors receive, although there are plans to freeze this payment for a year.

The SRA for the nine other members of the new cabinet would be £13,675 per year, compared to £9,775 the existing 14 board members are paid.

Councillor Tony Thomas, who is responsible for finance at the council, said an independent panel was recommending basic allowances were frozen to the end of the financial year.

But the council would be asked to approve a redistribution of the special responsibility allowances that would see a rise in some "to reflect the increased responsibilities and workload the executive changes will bring but one that is still well below the panel's maximum recommended rate".

He said the total cost of allowances to council tax payers "will only increase fractionally."

But Montgomeryshire MP Mr Davies said: "Such an increase seems insensitive at a time when public sector workers are having their pay frozen and there are cuts to services."

Other councils in rural areas with cabinets seem to pay their leading councillors similar SRAs to the one suggested in Powys.

In neighbouring Ceredigion, the council leader was paid an SRA of £27,692 and a basic allowance of £12,736 during the last financial year.

The council's cabinet members received £13,846 and the basic allowance.

In Pembrokshire, the council leader received an SRA of £29,513, a basic allowance of £12,973, and a communications and office support supplement of £500 in the last financial year.

Cabinet members received £14,756, the basic allowance and the supplement.

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