A decision to increase the number of Labour councillors on the borough’s ruling Cabinet has been slammed by opposition Liberal Democrat councillors at a time when council staff are being made redundant.
At the council’s annual general meeting on Saturday, councillors agreed to increase the number of Cabinet posts from eight to nine. Each Cabinet Member receives a special responsibility allowance of £34,343 each year. This is in addition to the basic allowance councillors receive of £10,832. The Leader of the Council receives an additional £51,166 on top of the councillor basic allowance of £10,832 each year.
Labour councillors also created a new position of ‘Deputy Cabinet Member’ last year with an allowance of £2,831 for each of the four councillors and have appointed four. The total pay bill for the Council’s Cabinet and Deputy Cabinet Members is now £523,225 each year.
The decision to increase the number of Cabinet positions is the result of two new individual posts being created out of a job-share last year in the Environment, Recycling, Community Safety and Volunteering portfolio. The new separate portfolios are Environment & Public Realm and Communities and Safety.
Southwark Liberal Democrat Opposition Leader, Councillor Anood Al-Samerai, said:
“It is incredible that the first decision by ruling Labour councillors this council year is to increase the number of paid positions at the top table.
“When 200 council staff are being made redundant this year, it is insensitive in the extreme to be creating new jobs on the Cabinet and increasing their pay bill.
“Labour councillors never tire of telling us about the scale of cuts the council is facing, yet they seem able to find the money for themselves. What kind of message does this send out to staff who are facing some very tough times and an uncertain future?
“There are big questions over what the four ‘Deputy Cabinet Members’ even do and I’m very sceptical that they are a good use of residents’ money. This all seems like an exercise in trying to keep Labour councillors on-side more than anything else.”