Devon town councillor calls for babysitting allowance

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Saskia Hogbin with her child in a council meetingImage source, Saskia Hogbin
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Councillor Saskia Hogbin said she joined the council "partly to put something back" into the community

A town councillor has called for rules to be changed to allow parents to claim for the cost of babysitting or childcare while they attend meetings.

Ashburton Town Council in Devon is supporting Saskia Hogbin's plea.

As a town councillor, she cannot apply for a carers allowance payable for the care of children under 14 that is offered by Devon County Council.

The National Association of Local Councils said it would like to see the law "reviewed and changed".

The national body said it wanted more people from "all backgrounds" to stand for election but "the current law is a barrier" and has resulted in councillors having to stand down.

'Representation of families'

The mother of three told the BBC she had to pay £100 for childcare in order to attend meetings in August, which she had not predicted when she volunteered for the role.

"My motivation to join the council was because there wasn't any representation of young families," Ms Hogbin said.

The councillor said she agreed a change would encourage more people to get involved in local politics.

"Although I raised the issue initially because of my personal circumstance, I believe that all councils, whatever level they are, should be a representation of the communities that they serve."

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Councillor Hogbin said her colleagues in the council "are trying to do all that they can"

The Ashburton town clerk said the legislation allowing a councillor to claim these allowances only applied at a county and district level.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Allowances paid to elected and unelected council members are decisions for individual councils."

The carers allowance is not applicable to town and parish councillors but other allowances such as "basic allowance and travelling and subsistence allowance" would be.

There were currently no plans to review the legislation governing parish councillor allowances, the government spokesman said.

Devon County Council's carers allowance would also apply to an elderly person or a councillor with a "recognised physical or mental disability" who should not be left unsupervised.

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