It has been over a year since the Liz Truss mini-budget broke Britain and caused the cost of living to spiral. We know so many of you across High Peak are still feeling the strain. We know this through trying to help people who contact us, through speaking to people on the doorstep weekly and because we feel it too.
Last week High Peak Borough Councillors accepted the recommendations of an Independent Review Panel to increase councillor allowances from £3,002 per year to £4,769 per year. This is the first review of councillor allowances since 2005. To put this in context, in the same period MP salaries have increased from £59,095 to £86,584. An increase of £27,489 for MPs compared with £1,767 for your local councillors.
The independent investigator found that some councillors were earning less than the national minimum wage for the long hours they are working for their communities, typically £50 a week. Many people are surprised to learn this when they find out.
A handful of councillors decided to vote against the independent recommendations. Some who are happy to take the money but didn’t want the responsibility and others because they are personally so well off, they do not need the money. That is great for them but we cannot have a situation where only the well off can afford to do the hugely important role of representing the voices of the residents in their communities.
We need greater support from government for the homeowners that have seen their mortgages rise by on average £190 a month since the mini-budget. For the Mums and Dads struggling to put food on the table with the rising cost of food. And the retirees who are worried about heating their homes through the oncoming winter.
The increase in allowances represents less than 0.8% of the council’s budget. In comparison we have seen a 72% real terms cut in funding over the last 13 years. If those few councillors who chose to vote against the increase in allowance really did want to make a difference, they could lobby their out of touch Conservative government to return some of the money they have taken away from our communities. We are doing everything we can to help people across High Peak with the cost of living, including providing 1,000 free swimming sessions in our swimming pools and working closely with the Fuel Bank Foundation, which is a charity that supports people on pre-payment meters. But we could do so much more, including lowering your council tax, if that government funding was reinstated.
Content by: Council Leaders Anthony Mckeown and Damien Greenhalgh.