ADUR district councillors will receive increases of up to 45 per cent in April, after an independent panel’s recommendation to equalise their allowances with their colleagues in Worthing.
Adur District Council members currently receive 17 per cent less than Worthing councillors, with basic pay of £3,969 per year the third-lowest in the south east.
Basic allowances will rise four per cent, while changes to the way extra allowances for those with special roles are calculated will further raise earnings.
The recommendation, agreed by the full council on Thursday, was the lower of two options put forward by independent residents – but was still criticised by Labour as a ‘scandalous Christmas bonus’.
Cokeham ward councillor Barry Mear said: “A lot of people would say Worthing councillors are paid too much. And two wrongs don’t make a right.
“Any increase at this time is wrong and I will be returning any increase to the community, where it belongs.”
The increases were suggested by the independent remuneration panel, made up of five Adur residents.
The panel argued Worthing councillors should not receive more, as they carry out similar roles.
They felt a two per cent rise plus £100 was suitable but councillors opted for the cheaper option.
A report by the panel read: “The panel is aware that the following proposals before members represent an increase of note to the members’ allowance budget for 2016/17, however on balance, the panel felt members of Adur are being underpaid for the contribution that they make and it is hoped that if adopted, the proposals go some way to redressing that imbalance.”
Councillors with special roles, like leader or chairing committees, receive extra allowances.
The amount is determined by ‘multipliers’, with each role allocated a proportional figure in relation to the basic rate.
But the multipliers are not the same for Adur and Worthing at present.
Worthing’s leader, Dan Humphreys, is entitled to claim three times more than the basic allowance for his role, while Adur leader Neil Parkin receives two-and-a-half times more.
With the multipliers to be equalised, certain councillors are in line for significantly higher allowances.
Adur licensing committee Emma Evans, will now be entitled to an extra £3,097 on top of the new basic allowance of £4,129.
This represents an extra 45 per cent, as the chairman of licensing currently receives £992.
Worthing’s chairman of licensing, Paul High, is set to receive £3,553 from April, in addition to £4,738 basic allowance – but was entitled to more than double that of Mrs Evans this year, at £2,322.
Mr Parkin, who will earn 22 per cent more as leader in 2016/17, with total allowances of £21,677, said: “What the panel want to do over the next seven years is equalise us with Worthing as we are doing the same job.
“Conservative councillors had a free vote and it was passed.
“At the end of the day it is (recommended by) an independent panel and the last time we argued with them they all resigned. They are all professional people.”
The option adopted by the full council was proposed and seconded by UKIP’s Paul Graysmark and Ken Bishop.
Two per cent of the increase is aligned with the increase in officer pay.
The total bill for allowances in 2016/17 will be £190,966 – up 14 per cent on the 2015/16 bill.
Mr Parkin said the concept of independent remuneration panels was introduced by the Labour government – required as part of the Local Government Act 2000.