Last year Nicholas Paget-Brown, Lead Councillor for Kensington & Chelsea, received £54,769, the highest special responsibility allowance of any councillor in the country, despite the council’s overall reduction of allowances expenditures.
After a freedom of information request made by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, it was discovered that Cllr Paget-Brown’s annual allowance was nearly £20,000 greater than that of neighbouring council leaders, including in boroughs such as Hammersmith and Fulham, and Westminster.
According to the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea’s member’s allowances scheme, the “special responsibility allowance” is only “paid to those members who have a special responsibility in relation to the Authority”.
The Leader’s general duties cover all cabinet portfolios, ensuring “a coherent approach to the Council’s decision-making,” and making “any decision which is delegated to an individual Cabinet Member or to the Cabinet.”
Some of the responsibilities which demand such a high special allowance, are RBKC specific tasks such as overseeing “the Council’s contribution to the life of the Royal Borough and to the Capital,” and the “Council’s influence over, and involvement in, the Notting Hill Carnival.”
Since 2013/14 there was an overall reduction in the council’s allowances expenditure from £1,131,714 to £1,089,829. After further analysis of the borough’s accounts by this paper, however, it has been discovered that this reduction is primarily the result of boundary changes which meaning that 50, rather than 54, councillors received basic allowances during the last financial year.
By comparison, in the neighbouring Westminster City Council, Philippa Roe, the Leader of the Council’s special responsibility allowance was £35,000 and the overall allowances and expenditures was £921,111.
Hammersmith and Fulham’s lead councillor, Cowan Stephen, received a slightly higher special responsibility allowance of £37,070.54. Whereas the overall council spend was only £718,973.
Harry Davis, Campaign Manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “Taxpayers in Kensington and Chelsea will be disappointed at the rate at which their local councillors’ allowances have remained high over the last three years”.
He continued to say: “It goes to show that not every council has prioritised finding savings or cutting taxes over awarding local politicians above inflation allowances.
“With the nation’s finances yet to be fixed, councillors across the country will continue to have to make difficult decisions. In order for them to have the moral authority to carry out that very important job, councillors must show restraint when it comes to their own taxpayer-funded allowances and ease the burden on hard-pressed families.”
Another Royal Borough, Kingston upon Thames, on the other hand, had the lowest basic allowance of just £7,646.