Kent County Council’s conservative members have voted for a 4.2% rise to their basic allowances during County Hall’s first virtual full council meeting yesterday. The pay increase will see a total of £1.3million paid out to its 81 members.
KCC’s leader Roger Gough (Con), who will see his pay rise from £66,000 to £70,000 for this financial year, described the system as “awkward” for members involved and said he could understand peoples’s frustrations – but he is still quite chuffed with the extra cash in pay.
Silence filled the online chamber as none of the councillors wished to speak about the rise in the public meeting, which occurred during the Coronavirus pandemic when a number of workers are still furloughed.
KCC have announced they have a massive shortfall, therefore they should not be offering pay rises
KCC’s administration has recently said it will need at least an extra £50million from Boris Johnson’s government to cover the growing costs of Covid over the next 12 months, which is forecast to be £130m at this stage. Therefore, it is astounding that anyone could even be considering pay rises at this difficult time.
It is not the first contentious issue with councillors pay in recent times. Back in 2017, former leader Paul Carter (Con) proposed to enlarge the basic rate of pay by 15% in a single year. This was voted in by councillors. What a surprise!
Following the huge pay rise, it was agreed, also in 2017, that future increases in members allowances should be linked to the same percentage rise awarded to all council staff. It is doubtful that any council staff will receive a 4.2% pay increase.
Councillors who did not vote for the pay rise, including Lib Dem opposition leader Rob Bird, have claimed that there was nothing they could do about the pay rise, but now have to accept it. Perhaps they should have used their vote, and chosen not to support the motion. In the next breath, councillors will be telling the public that council services will need to be cut due to financial issues.
Sadly, this is another example of people in powerful positions being completely out of touch with the working classes.
One Kent resident commented ‘Where are the increases for NHS & care staff, still no more police on the ground, no mention of an increase for Firefighters who have been backing up ambulances way before this nightmare situation descended upon us’.
Another said ‘How can they vote through a 4.2 percent rise when their budgets are in chaos, with the drop in revenue due to coronavirus?’.