North Yorkshire County Councillors voted to increase their allowances by 2.5% at their most recent meeting, prompting criticism from local borough councillor Rob Barnett.
Cllr Barnett said: “It is shameful that in these days of austerity, when more and more people in poorly paid jobs are struggling to make ends meet, our county councillors see fit to buck the trend in their own favour.
“The expenditure side is where the cuts come, and we are all increasingly experiencing the effects of cuts to our services. But, are the councillors at NYCC subjected to the same austerity cuts as the rest of us? Not a bit.
“What an example to set! I can publicly state , that as a prospective candidate for NYCC, I would not have accepted this. I would have fought tooth and nail to oppose the decision.”
In a statement issued to the Whitby Gazette, the county council said that councillors had rejected a recommendation that their allowances should be increased by 5%, but did approve the 2.5% increase.
The statement added: “This is the first rise in members’ allowances in eight years, the previous one being in 2009/10.
“The recommendations were made by the Independent Remuneration Panel, a volunteer body recruited within North Yorkshire to consider county council members’ allowances. In recommending a five per cent increase, the panel said: ‘We recognize these are not insignificant amounts at a time of financial stringency.
“However, we believe they are affordable, justified and necessary to compensate members adequately for the duties they perform and to encourage a wide range of people to consider becoming councillors.
“However, if members do not feel able to support this increase in full because of the present austerity measures, then the panel alternatively recommends them to agree as a minimum a 2.5 per cent increase in the basic allowance and the special responsibility allowances.
“The panel also looked at the level of allowances paid by comparable councils and found North Yorkshire’s rates were the third lowest, placing it 14th out of 16.”
County Councillor Carl Les, Leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said: “We recognise that many households are just about managing, but it is important that nobody should feel excluded from standing for council because of financial concerns.”