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Cheshire East councillors’ allowances are expected to be frozen for the next year as Cheshire East cuts back on its spending, writes Belinda Ryan.

A recommendation in the budget, which goes to full council on February 22, urges councillors to consider freezing their allowances for the 2023/24 financial year.

It comes at a time when MPs have been awarded a 2.9% pay rise – giving them an extra £2,440 a year.

Poynton councillor Jos Saunders (Con) told the corporate policy committee: “In terms of the freeze on members allowances, to be honest, I’m broadly in support of this.

“I think our residents are experiencing a lot of pain at the moment.”

She also suggested the council go a step further and review the special responsibility allowances (SRA) for deputy committee chairs.

“The deputy chair of scrutiny committee did not get an SRA and, before 2019, I think 90% of Cabinet members did not have a deputy to them, so could we look at the workload and the roles of the chairmen and the deputy chairmen,” she asked.

“That may be a bit radical but I think, as a council, we often have to take radical decisions to save some money.”

All Cheshire East councillors currently get a basic allowance of £12,351 a year.

On top of that the council leader gets an additional £28,371, the deputy leader gets £17,128 and the chairs of the corporate policy committee, economy and growth, environment and communities, highways and transport, children and families, adults and health and the finance sub-committee get a special responsibility allowance of £12,000.

Where the same councillor is entitled to two SRAs, they only take one.

So Council Leader Sam Corcoran is chair of corporate policy but does not get the additional £12,000 because he gets the leader SRA.

All the above committees have deputy chairs who get an SRA of £6,000.

SRAs of £7,650 go to chairs of the scrutiny committee, audit and governance, strategic planning, southern planning, northern planning and licensing.

The chairs of the appointments committee and public rights of way get £4,200.

The deputy chairs of these committees do not get an allowance.

Other allowances include £10,000 for the main opposition group leader and £5,000 for the joint administration deputy group leaders and the leader of any other group with four or more members.

The mayor gets an allowance of £14,000 and the deputy mayor, £5,600.

Deputy leader Craig Browne (Ind) said: “I think that clearly it’s right, in a cost of living crisis, that we are seen, as elected members, to do our bit.

“But having reviewed some of the comments myself online and on social media, it’s quite clear there are members of the public who believe we have allocated ourselves an increase in allowances year on year and that we continue to enjoy free lunches at their expense at committee.”

He said councillors were lucky now to get a glass of water or cup of tea at committee “and so I think the myths need putting to bed on this”.

He added: “It’s quite right we do this [freeze allowances] in a cost of living crisis but it can’t go on indefinitely, particularly for those members, and obviously I include myself in this, who are of working age and who need to earn a living to pay bills and pay mortgages, but I do support the proposals for this year.”

The full council will vote on the budget proposals at its meeting on February 22.

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