Extra cash for councillors' allowances slammed as a 'slap in the face' for taxpayers

Dudley Council’s plans to spend an extra £100,000 on committees have been slammed as a slap in the face for taxpayers. Despite the pressures on spending, which means the authority needs to fill a £7.9m black hole in its budget, councillors are being asked to approve extra spending which includes £52,000 in allowances to councillors sitting on scrutiny committees.

The authority is currently carrying out a review to slash ten per cent off its budget in a bid to avoid a financial crisis. It has already made big cuts which include stopping funding for small grants to support community projects – a move which attracted widespread criticism.

Independent councillor Shaun Keasey said: “To propose an increase in the overall councillor’s allowance budget by tens of thousands of pounds, after community forum funding has been withdrawn and the council being in such a perilous financial position, would, in my opinion, be a slap in the face to hard-working residents and taxpayers.” The extra funding for committees, which is made up of £50,000 for a council officer’s job to support new committees plus the extra cash for councillors, has been defended by the council’s leader, Cllr Patrick Harley.

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Every major department on the council has its own scrutiny committee to hold decision makers and cabinet members to account plus suggest changes to policy and proposals. Cllr Harley says officers were expecting cuts to the number of committees and did not budget for all of them.

-Credit:Copyright Unknown
-Credit:Copyright Unknown

Now all the committees are staying, it is necessary for the council to approve extra spending, which is why the extra spending is in the latest financial report. Cllr Harley said: “I would prefer not to spend any money but things cost, it is part of the democratic process and we would be poorer without having committees to hold the council to account.

“If you believe in democracy we have to have it.” The plan will be discussed by the council’s cabinet on Monday July 15.

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