Allowances bill for Havering councillors under scrutiny

Cllr Roger Ramsey said he wouldn't make cuts out of choice

Cllr Roger Ramsey said he wouldn't make cuts out of choice - Credit: Archant

The leader of Havering Council has confirmed that the bill for councillors allowances will be reduced as the borough works to make savings of £60million.

Recorder readers had questioned whether allowances would be reduced after the council unveiled plans to cut frontline services to reduce its budget.

Cllr Roger Ramsey said: “I’m looking at the allowances paid to cabinet members and chairs of committees – called Special Responsibility Allowances (SRAs).

“We have already cut the overall expenditure on SRAs, by reducing the number of cabinet positions. The next step is to review the role and make-up of our committees and the SRAs they attract.

“I hope to have comprehensive proposals to take to full council during the autumn – because the final decision on allowances is made by all councillors.”

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The amount already saved from reducing the number of councillors in receipt of SRAs amounts to £100,000 annually.

In total the authority has said it must make £60million worth of savings over the next four years due to government funding cuts, inflationary costs and a growing and ageing population.

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Service areas facing cuts to their budgets include libraries, social care, youth services and cultural facilities.

Recorder readers took to the paper’s Facebook page to ask if councillors will feel the squeeze alongside residents.

Cj Tait said: “Now here’s a thought... if councillor’s want to show the people of Havering that they truly understand that cuts have to be made across the board who among them will be the first one to put their hands up to have their own special allowance cut, or ... shock... horror... not claim it at all, and reduce the pay out that they receive therefore in the process saving the borough much-needed funding that could be spent else where.”

Cllr Lawrence Webb, leader of the Ukip group, said he had proposed an across the board cut of one third to all councillor allowances, which was rejected last year. He added that this was something he would again support.

Residents’ Association and Labour members have also said they would support a shake-up of SRAs.

Cllr Keith Darvill, Labour Party member, said a shake-up of the overview and scrutiny structure was required to make savings and ensure a robust approach to overseeing council procedure.

But, he added that the SRAs needed to provide councillors with the financial support that would allow them to commit the required time to ensuring that the council was run effectively.

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