Friday, 15 May 2009

Thanet District Councillor’s Expenses

allowances and expenses
I have had a fairly thorough look at the councils expenses system and it would appear in most respects to be reasonable and fair certainly, those expenses that councillors can claim seem to be modest enough.

There is one aspect I have found that I don’t understand and would appreciate it if anyone could come up with a plausible explanation, with the maximum pay of any council officer being around £115,000 how can the combined pay and expenses for one officer be over £170,000 as this would mean expenses of over £55,000.
Does this mean that there are different expense rules for council officers than those for councillors, I certainly can’t find officers expenses anywhere on the councils website.

9 comments:

  1. Would I be correct in saying that the figures published relate to Councillors' allowances and NOT their expenses? The expenses would be in addition to these allowances and have not been published.

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  2. 12.36 My apologies I have amended the page as best I can, I am on a bit of a learning curve here and the councils website is not the easiest thing to use.

    Expenses don’t seem to appear in the councils accounts in any separate place.

    I was thinking this entire expenses and allowances thing has the makings of a very good board game.

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  3. Michael i had a read of what you published from one of the meetings approving the leader's expenses of £18,000 and allowance £18,000 and deputy leader £10,000 and £10,000 no wonder it is such a gravy train!
    Did i understand it correctly?

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  4. It is my understanding from the report that they are setting the Councillors' special allowances. Expenses arent shown in this report - just what they can claim expenses for. I recall seeing councillors expenses detailed in a notice in the paper

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  5. Michael, looking at the Recommendations for 2009/10, is the allowance for a Group Leader the Opposition Group Leader only or, as it is not specified, also for the present Conservative Group Leader as well?

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  6. I don’t really know Bertie, when one looks into the fairly murky world of the way our politicians and civil servants obtain money, one gets the impression that the careful wording of a sentence can be worth thousands of pounds.

    In the current scandal over MPs expenses an excuse that seems to be quite prevalent is that they took legal advice as to the best way to swindle the taxpayer and remain within the letter of the law.

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  7. Like most things TDC attempt to do they seem to be incapable of publishing something in a way that makes it clear what it means. I have just looked at what is on the web and will try and interpret it into plain English!
    First a bit of background.
    At one time Councillors used to be paid for attendance at meetings plus mileage plus a food allowance, this was prior to the Cabinet system when we had dozens of Committee's consequently some, not all Councillors would turn up at meetings ask to speak on agenda item one, then say something like "I think the Committee should support this" and then leave. Having now been shown as attending the meeting they would claim an attendance allowance plus petrol money and possibly food allowance. So say a meeting started at 7pm a Councillor could arrive at 5 to 7 speak and be gone by 5 past 7. You dont need me to tell you of the potential for abuse there !! Laughably Members of Parliament decided in their wisdom that this system was open to abuse and decided that Councillors nationally should be paid a standard allowance set locally by something called The Independant Remuneration Panel. This panel consists of members who are not connected in anyway to the Council or any Councillor.
    Now to Thanets allowances, each Councillor gets a basic allowance of £4,360. Some Members get an additional Special Responsibility Allowance, these are the three columns, one shows number, second one shows allowance and the third shows maximum expenditure.
    the first one shows the number of positions, so one Leader, one Deputy, one Opposition Leader, five Cabinet Members, five Shadows and so on,
    the second column shows the basic allowance, the third confusing colum shows the total amount allowed to be spent on each position so one Leader equals eighteen grand so that is the maximum available for payment to the Leader, same for the Deputy then five cabinet members is the basic allowance times the number of them, five in this case so five times £7,990 equals £39,950. That is the maximum budgeted for. Underneath are the extra expenses that Councillors can claim for, petrol, meals when out of the District etc.
    Just to confuse the issue there is another table at the bottom headed Special Responsibility Allowances, these are the recommendations of the The Independant Remuneration Panel. Council decided NOT to adopt these recommendations. Somewhere there is a list of exactly what the basic allowance is supposed
    to cover.
    Sorry this post rambles a bit!

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  8. Mike you ramble on as much as you want about this I spent about half of yesterday trying to understand officers and councillors expenses, trying to work out if they were just and justifiable.

    Your explanation helps a lot, evidently we are paying over £1,000 a day to have councillors to represent our interests.

    I am having to have a serious rethink about peoples motives and effectiveness within our public sector.

    I am pretty sure that it is civil servants expenses and pay that will come under the spotlight next and wonder how the TDC officer that appears to have claimed over £1,000 per week will explain this.

    A fundamental problem both in TDC and government as a whole is that there doesn’t seem to be any set up for assessing officers abilities or dealing with those officers that can’t do their job or are being paid far more than their qualifications and abilities warrant.

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  9. anon again!
    I didn't think that Councils were allowed to keep things hidden any more. 'Freedom of Information' should be claimed, to clarify exactly, wages and expenses for each of our representatives once and for all.

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