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Councillors vote to increase allowances despite concerns over tough economic climate

Councillors will receive a pay rise next year despite concerns over increasing their allowances during the tough economic climate.

Slough Borough Council requested an independent report into the money each councillor is paid in February.

The review, carried out by the Independent Remuneration Panel, found that the basic allowance for councillors had fallen behind neighbouring local authorities.

It revealed each SBC councillor receives a basic allowance of £7,779 compared to £8,143 at Windsor and Maidenhead and £8,687 at Bracknell Forest.

The report recommended increasing the pay of Slough councillors to £8,438.

Council leader James Swindlehurst (Lab, Cippenham Meadows) said: “There is never a good time to vote on these reviews and we are all very aware of the wider context of employment and the economy but we are not implementing this now, we are rolling it forward to the budget processes to be implemented in the next financial year.”

Mr Swindlehurst, whose pay as council leader will increase from £20,224 to £21,939, added a review has not been carried out into basic allowances for more than 10 years and said he intended to donate a portion of his increase to Slough Foodbank.

Fellow Labour councillor Christine Hulme questioned the timing of the pay hike due to rumours of a pay freeze for public sector staff and rising unemployment in Slough due to the impact of COVID-19.

She told the meeting: “I don’t want it to be a situation that puts councillors’ financial interests above our own workforce.

“I’m not saying this to be populist in any way it’s just about having due regard to what’s going on in our wider economy and what’s happening in our town.”

Opposition leader Wayne Strutton (Con, Haymill and Lynch Hill) also described the pay increase as ‘inappropriate’ in the current economic climate.

Councillors voted in favour of the proposals, with four votes against from the Conservative opposition.

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