Unions help secure expenses increase of 5p a mile for Cambs county councillors

COUNTY councillors will get an extra 5p a mile - backdated nine months - thanks in part to an agreement reached by union chiefs at Shire Hall, Cambridge.

Councillor Steve Count, portfolio holder for resources and performance, told them “it will be in your pay packet at the end of January”.

He said that under the terms of the allowances scheme, mileage and subsistence rates are aligned to what the council pays its employees.

Early last year Government agencies recommended all employees nationwide get a 5p a mile boost to 45p from 40p but implementation in Cambridgeshire was delayed.

Cllr Count that after “helpful and constructive discussions” with Unison, GMB and Unite, 45p was agreed along with “offsetting cost saving measures”.

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This would help fund the rise and means for example prospective employees no longer being paid to attend interviews, ending of the relocation scheme, removal of a sandwich allowance and removal of a vehicle loan scheme.

Although councillors are not part of these arrangements under the existing allowance schemes their travel and subsistence is set at the same rates as those paid to officers.

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Cllr Count said: “This clearly confirms than any change to officer rates is automatically reflected in member rates.”

A council official explained that a new independent remuneration panel looking at members’ allowances “may well look at mileage along with everything else”.

Cllr Count told councillors it had been “positively agreed” that the mileage increase should be back dated to April 6 2011.

Of the work of the new independent panel he said “I will take whatever they give, up, down or sideways, simply because it is independent. It is what it is, independent.”

To argue that unions had helped in some way to negotiate a rise for councillors was “a very unusual way of looking at things.”

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