Outrage at mayor set for 80% pay rise

Michael Stephens/PA

A local authority has come under fire as several mayoral roles are set to pocket huge pay rises against the backdrop of drastic austerity cuts elsewhere in the public sector.

The Mayor of Leicester is set for 80% pay rise, taking his salary to £100,000 and making him the second highest-paid elected mayor in the country, behind only Boris Johnson.

Sir Peter Soulsby (pictured), a former Labour MP who was elected Mayor of Leicester this year could see his pay go up from £56,000 to £100,000. Under proposals, his deputy would also receive an increase of more than double his salary from £34,000 to £75,000.

The alarming pay proposals come as the council is reportedly pushing through £70million spending curbs and cutting 1,000 jobs this year.

The Government has put pressure on councils to rein in the pay of highly paid officials at this time of austerity, yet considerable pay rises have still been put forward. The Daily Mail reports that six assistant mayors would pocket 65% increases from £26,000 to £40,000, and all 47 city councillors would see their basic allowances go up 20% from £10,000 to £12,000.

Open the floodgates

If the pay rises go through, local authorities throughout the country will want to follow suit as the pay and allowance rates of elected members tend to be set by comparing themselves with their neighbours. The Mail reports that some councils have doubled the level of allowances paid to elected members in the past five years by claiming they were falling behind.

The leaked proposals in Leicester have been met with outrage and accusations that the remuneration panel that discusses pay is not independent. The city's one Tory councillor, Ross Grant, said: "The pay proposals are disgraceful. The panel has been promoted as independent, but its members were appointed by Labour after the election, with no involvement for opposition parties.

Sir Peter has defended the cost of the pay increases by his decision earlier this year to get rid of the authority's chief executive, which saved £250,000. Yet the Mail reports that after details of the rises sparked a row, he last night promised to delay a council vote on implementing them.

"The report of the remuneration panel was leaked before we had the chance to read or discuss the contents," he said. "I am firmly of the view that politicians ought not to set their own pay. I also believe that those making recommendations should have an opportunity to understand members' views and to explain their thinking.

"I have therefore asked officers to take the item off the agenda for the full council meeting next week. This will give members an opportunity to ask the panel to explain its proposals and, if it sees fit, reconsider them."

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