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Members' Allowances/Parental Leave Policy/Virtual Area Committees

Meeting: 02/02/2022 - Civic Affairs (Item 11)

11 Members' Allowances/Parental Leave Policy/Virtual Area Committees pdf icon PDF 369 KB

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Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Council’s Independent Person and the Assistant Chief Executive regarding three topics within democratic services. Firstly the consideration of the Independent Remuneration Panel’s report on recommendations for a Members’ Allowance Scheme 2022/23; secondly a review of Area Committees which had been held virtually June-December 2021; and finally a response to a Council Motion on a parental leave policy for Councillors.

 

Councillor Davey proposed the following amendments to the Member Allowance Scheme (deleted text struck through, additional text underlined).

 

Recommendations

 

(i)  Consider the Panel’s report and recommend an with respect to the Allowance Scheme and recommend making the following amendments to Council on 3 March 2022

 

1)  Basic Allowances

The Independent Remuneration Panel Report noted:

“There was a general concern among Councillors that, although the Basic Allowance for City Councillors is now commensurate with that of benchmarked District Councils, the non-typical nature of this council could mean that there are anomalies in the level of Basic Allowance in relation to the spread and depth of responsibilities undertaken by Councillors in Cambridge. The IRP recommends that the level of Basic Allowance be reviewed again in four years – together with the distribution between BA and SRAs.”

 

Cambridge City Council has had a City Deal since 2015 and a Devolution Deal from 2017. These have put additional responsibilities on the Council in addition to those of a District Council. It has also put additional workload on Councillors and this has been partly reflected by SRAs for those who served on the Greater Cambridge Partnership and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Boards and Committees. The Basic Allowance however has not been updated to reflect the additional work for Councillors who are for instance directly involved now in transport and highways projects such as the GCP Histon Road and Milton Road schemes and consultations across the city. This has involved working with residents, residents’ associations and officers of the GCP and Cambridgeshire County Council and serving as Chairs of Local Liaison Forums.

 

The Independent Remuneration Panel recommendation is to review the Basic Allowances in 4 years time -2025. This will be 10 years after the City Deal was implemented and 8 years after the Devolution Deal was implemented increasing the responsibilities and workload for Cambridge City Councillors.

 

Civic Affairs Committee therefore resolves to ask the Independent Remuneration Panel to review the Basic Allowance for Councillors due to the non-typical nature of Cambridge City Council in addition to benchmarked District Councils with an in-year recommendation to be back dated to the beginning of the 2022 / 23 municipal year.

 

2)  Planning Committee and Joint Development Control Committee SRAs

The Planning Committee and Joint Development Control Committee both meet on a monthly basis with meetings lasting typically all day for the Planning Committee and nearly all day for the Joint Development Control Committee. They are regulatory committees and are therefore making decisions on behalf of the Council. They are also involved in site visits. Both committees are typically composed of members who are retired or of independent means and are therefore unrepresentative of Cambridge City Councillors and residents.

 

Members of the Planning Committee receive 15% of SRA and members of the Joint Development Control Committee receive no SRA. This does not reflect the workload for members of these 2 committees.

 

Civic Affairs Committee therefore resolves to address this situation by updating the SRAs:

 

Planning Committee members 30% of Basic Allowance

Joint Development Control Committee members 20% of Basic Allowance

 

3)  SRA for Leader

Civic Affairs Committee notes that the Independent Remuneration Panel recommends the two Deputies SRAs at 25% of an Executive Councillor’s allowance – i.e. 0.5 times Basic Allowance. While welcoming this recognition of the role of the Deputy Leaders, this would create the anomaly that Deputy Leaders that have a portfolio responsibility will have allowances close to that of the Leader of the Council - Leader 2.75 Basic Allowance, Deputy Leader with portfolio responsibility  2.5 Basic Allowance.

 

Civic Affairs therefore resolves that the SRA for the Leader should be 3 times Basic Allowance to recognise the responsibilities of the Leader of Cambridge City Council

 

4)  Any percentage increase in the Basic Allowance increases in line with the National Living Wage

 

On a show of hands the amendment was carried by 4 votes to 0.

 

The Committee made the following comments in response to the report:

  i.  Thanked the Independent Remuneration Panel for their report. Wanted the seven recommendations to come back to the Civic Affairs Committee. Asked for the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) and Combined Authority (CA) special responsibility allowances (SRA) to be included in the review.

  ii.  Queried why the amendment proposed to increase the Leader’s SRA.

  iii.  Asked the Independent Person why the IRP recommended that Member Allowances were increased by the index used for City Council employees and then asked why the amendment proposed to increase Members Allowances by the National Living Wage.

  iv.  Was pleased that the Parental Leave Policy was moving forward.

  v.  Would like to discuss the tabled amendments to the Members Allowances Scheme with their group and would therefore abstain from the Civic Affairs Committee vote.

 

Councillor Davey advised that when the level of SRA for the Deputy Leader with Executive Portfolio was calculated they would be receiving a higher SRA than the Leader. The Leader’s SRA was therefore adjusted so that they were in receipt of a higher SRA.

 

The Independent Person advised that the recommendation to increase Member’s Allowances by the index used for City Council employees came out of discussions with Members as part of their review.

 

Councillor Davey advised that the amendment to increase Members Allowances by the National Living Wage was felt to be more equitable and reflect the level of responsibility and work members undertook.

 

Councillor Moore advised that the Labour Group had carried out their own benchmarking exercise regarding SRAs paid to other Council Leaders.

 

Councillor Sargeant commented that the role of the Leader of the Council was in itself like a full-time job and that it was difficult to compare against equivalent District Council Leader roles. He also asked for a review of the points made in paragraph 1.5 of the officer’s report (on page 117 of the agenda) preferably within 6 months.

 

Resolved (by 4 votes to 0):

i.  To recommend the Members Allowance Scheme as amended to Council on 3 March 2022.

ii.  To receive a progress report on the Independent Remuneration Panel’s non-financial recommendations in February 2023.

iii.  To recommend to Council that Area Committees continued virtually for March 2022 as set out in paragraph 1.6 of the officer’s report.

iv.  To note a report recommending a parental leave policy would be submitted later this year.