Revealed: Preston City councillors’ £450 allowance increase amid council tax hike

Preston City Council’s councillors have seen their basic allowance rise by nearly 12 percent since 2019.

In the 2019/20 financial year, councillors were able to claim £3,908.04 in basic allowances – this number rose to £4,356.96 in 2020/21.

This is a rise of £448.92 in 12 months.

Councillors are not paid a salary, but are entitled to claim the basic allowance for their work as a councillor – in particular, travel expenses and other such payments.

However, councillors can turn down the offer of the basic allowance – in 2020/21, only one Preston City councillor claimed less than the basic allowance, Ian Donnell, who left the City Council in May 2020.

As of 2020/21, Preston City Council spent £291,892.96 of taxpayers’ money on allowances for city councillors.

In 2018, the basic allowance for Preston City councillors was set at £3,831 – if this number was increased in line with inflation, then in 2020 the basic allowance should have been set at £3,966.70.

Given that the actual allowance set for councillors in 2020 was £4,356.96, the city councillors’ allowances increased by £390.26 above the rate of inflation.

The Leader of the City Council, Councillor Matthew Brown claimed a total of £13,923.80 in 2018/19, which includes the basic allowance for councillors, as well as an additional allowance of £10,092.80 in his capacity as Leader of the Council.

Cllr. Brown’s allowance as Leader of the Council increased by nearly £700 in 2019/20, with his additional allowances being set at £10,763.04 – this increased to £12,000.96 in 2020/21.

Cllr. Brown’s total allowances in 2020 amounted to £16,357.92 – 62.9 percent of the average wage in Preston

The figures released by Preston City Council shows that the Leader of the Council’s allowance has increased by 18.9 percent since 2018.

Band D council tax in Preston in 2018 was £1,852 and rose to £2,091 in 2021 – an increase of 12.9 percent.

This compares to the UK average of Band D council tax, which was £1,671 in 2018, and rose to £1,898 in 2021 – meaning that Preston’s average council tax is £193 (10.1 percent) higher than the national average.

This comes after it was announced this week that the cost of living in the UK has increased by more than five percent, the highest increase in 30 years.

A Preston City Council spokesperson said: “Unfortunately the Council is not in a position to respond to the question raised and provide a comment because the setting of the allowances and the rationale behind them is determined by an Independent Panel.”