At this week’s full council meeting, Southwark councillors agreed a report recommending changes to members’ allowances.
The report recommended that ‘loss of office payments’ (aka ‘golden goodbyes’) be scrapped, after seven years of campaigning from the Lib Dem group for these payments to be axed.
However, the report also recommended Southwark continue to pay out large additional allowances to committee chairs and other position holders.
These ‘Special Responsibility Allowances’ (SRAs) for the next financial year will see committee chairs be paid thousands of pounds per meeting chaired.
The chair of Southwark’s main scrutiny committee will receive £3,003 for each of the eight times the committee meets over the next 12 months.
The additional yearly allowance for deputy cabinet members is set to increase by £6,609 for each of the four position holders.
The Southwark Lib Dem group proposed an amendment to the report, calling for reductions to the additional allowances for committee chairs and community champions, scrapping of the additional allowances for deputy cabinet members and for the cabinet to be halved from eight members to four.
The recommendations of the Lib Dem amendment would have saved the council £265,553. Labour voted down this amendment.
Southwark Liberal Democrat Leader Cllr Victor Chamberlain, said, “There is much important work to do in addition to the role of ward councillors and we must remunerate appropriately so a diverse range colleagues can participate in the running of the council. But the culture of cronyism has grown out of control in Southwark and too many Labour councillors are being rewarded by the tax payer unnecessarily.
In a two hour meeting, Southwark’s lead scrutiny chair makes £26 per minute. That’s as much as a premier league player and twice the hourly wage of a carer in London. ”
The end of the ‘golden goodbyes’ scheme, Cllr Graham Neale said, “Labour’s seven years of stubborn resistance to any suggestion that these payments be stopped shows the wasteful attitude they have in regards to residents’ money. The Liberal Democrats will now be requesting that any members who received a golden goodbye fully reimburse the council, or at least donate it to charity.”