We got it wrong. We informed you that Cllrs were to receive a raise from £3,867 to £4,900. On the evidence posted on SDC’s website it was correct but on the night Cllr David Drury Monk leader of SDC Council moved that the amount be raised still further to £5,100 and it was seconded by Cllr Jennifer Hollingsbee Deputy Leader of the Council.
A debate of 47 minutes then ensued and Cllrs gave their passionate reasons why they are worth a 31.9% rise instead of a 26.7% rise as we informed you.
This raise will be backdated to 20 May 2015, so each Cllr will receive a bumper bonus next pay day of £719.25 or thereabouts.
Cllr Damon Robinson UKIP Cheriton Ward proposed the rise be introduced over 2 years, but this was voted down.
Cllrs Monk, Govett, Jeffrey Lyons, Love, Pascoe and Dearden all gave passionate speeches for the reason why they should receive a £1,233 increase.
It was mentioned by a few Cllrs that raising the allowance would attract people to stand as Cllrs. That begs the question, Did Cllrs stand for office because of the money?
One of the things nobody mentioned was that Cllrs under current HMRC rules can claim for the following
Postage and Stationary – The amount of claims should be limited to the actual cost incurred.
Telephone – A claim may be made for the cost of calls made in respect of approved and non- approved duties.
Secretarial assistance – A deduction may be given for payments for necessary secretarial assistance involving for example drafting replies to letters, typing and filing where such assistance is not provided by the local authority. Any amounts claimed should be reasonable in relation to the councillor’s allowances and to the assistance given.
Hire of rooms – The expenditure to be claimed should be limited to the amount incurred and should relate to hire for “surgeries” or protest meetings such as objections to planning applications.
Household expenses – Where it is necessary for a councillor to provide facilities at home, to do some of his or her work as a councillor, a deduction can be given for the additional costs incurred such as heating and lighting. Following discussions it has been agreed with the Inland Revenue that a standard deduction of £135 can be given. If a room is used exclusively for council business, a claim may be made for the proportion of, heat and light relative to that room.
Operation of PAYE – Tax is collected under the PAYE system. The amount of tax deducted by the authority depends on the code number issued by each member’s own tax office. So if their code is below the threshold then no tax need be paid.
We do not know which Cllr utilise the rules set down by HMRC, but some may well use these legitimate claims to claim back expenses incurred in their duties as Cllrs.
25 Cllrs Voted in favour of the increase, four abstained, all UKippers and one Cllr, Lenny Laws ,UKIP Walland and Denge Marsh Ward voted against the raise.