A district councillor has expressed his “disgust” after Conservative councillors on Sedgemoor District Council voted through a 32% pay rise for Executive Cabinet members this week.

Lib Dem district councillor Bill Revans took to social media to criticise the decision, saying he’s “flabberghasted and disgusted” at the decision that was taken at a full council meeting this week.

But Sedgemoor District Council spokeswoman Claire Faun explained to Burnham-On-Sea.com the background to the decision.

“Based on 35-hours a week, an Executive Members’ allowance comes in at £5.40 per hour. Given the number of hours worked by Executive members, which were verified by the Independent Panel, the increase in allowance does not take the ‘wage’ up to the level of the Living Wage Foundation from 1st January 2019 of £9.00 per hour,” she said.

“Allowances for Councillors are recommended to Sedgemoor District Council by an Independent Remuneration Panel, which is made up of independent business representatives and members of the community. The Panel recommended that all members of Council (cross party) received a 2% pay rise.”

“Members had deferred any increases in their allowances until staff had received the nationally negotiated pay rises for public sector workers. This allowance is known as the Basic Allowance and is paid to all members. Executive members and committee chairmen, and their deputies, also receive a Special Responsibility Allowance for their additional duties as well as the Basic Allowance.”

“The Panel recently carried out a survey of all members, which looked at the hours of all members and the workload of Executive members, committee chairman and ward councillors. It also looks at comparable figures for other councils.”

“Executive members are ultimately responsible for running the multi-million pound business of Sedgemoor District Council and the services that it delivers to its residents.  The Panel decided to increase the multiplying factor for Executive members from 1.5 to 2 times the Basic Allowance to reflect their responsibility.”

“The Panel also discussed councillor allowances to review the roles, responsibilities and workloads of the Executive, as well as committee chairmen and their deputies.”

“Sedgemoor District Council is not cutting budgets or services. Sedgemoor has increased services in the past year; introducing Somerset Independent Plus as well as taking over responsibility from Somerset County Council of the ‘‘Supporting People” scheme. Sedgemoor has also provided additional support for people claiming Universal Credit.”

“With specific regard to Executive members, their allowances had dropped behind some committee chairmen.  Sedgemoor District Council is going through a digital transformation programme, which will ultimately see staff figures decline.  There are also plans for the number of Executive members to decrease in line with staff numbers.”