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Belfast councillors can vote themselves pay rise this week

By Rebecca Black

Published 30/08/2016

Belfast City councillors are expected to award themselves two years' worth of extra allowances later this week
Belfast City councillors are expected to award themselves two years' worth of extra allowances later this week

Belfast City councillors are expected to award themselves two years' worth of extra allowances later this week.

If voted through at a meeting of the full council on Thursday, the basic allowance for councillors will increase to £14,485, while the total allowances for elected representatives with special responsibilities will also increase by 1%.

Earlier this month the council's strategic policy and resources committee backed a circular from the Department for Communities that sets out revised maximum limits for councillor allowances.

The committee agreed to increase the basic allowance from £14,200 per annum to £14,342 with effect from April 1 this year, and to £14,485 with effect from April 1, 2017, and noted that was a 1% increase for both years.

It also agreed to the department increase for the maximum amount payable for special responsibility allowances to £110,171 - thes allowances affect councillors who are appointed to additional roles such as Lord Mayor, Deputy Lord Mayor, High Sheriff, committee chair or political party group leader.

However, the decision will have to be formally passed at the full meeting of the council.

Members can earn up to £49,000, depending on any special responsibilities they have been elected to. They can also claim mileage, subsistence and dependants carers' allowance.

Last year's Lord Mayor Arder Carson claimed £52,227 in total, which included a £3,227 subsistence claim.

The minutes on the council's website have not detailed whether the Lord Mayor's allowance will also increase.

The next highest income after Lord Mayor is that of Sinn Fein group leader Jim McVeigh, who receives £6,951 on top of his basic allowance. This is set to rise to £7,021 from next April, giving him a total allowance of £21,506.

This is lower than the average industrial wage - believed to be in the region of £26,000 - that all Sinn Fein elected representatives receive.

Councillors get £6,713 if they chair one of the five committees within the City Hall; this will rise to £6,951. While the allowance for serving as vice-chair of a committee will go up from £3,333 to £3,366.

There are also increases to the additional allowances for councillors who help run their political party group on the council.

As the biggest party with 19 councillors, Sinn Fein receives the largest allowances, which are paid to its group chair (£6,951 increasing to £7,021), group deputy chair (£3,333 increasing to £3,366) and group secretary (£3,333 increasing to £3,366).

The DUP is the next biggest party with 13 councillors. It receives slightly lower amounts for its group leader (£5,808 increasing to £5,867).

The smaller parties - Alliance (eight councillors), UUP (seven councillors) and SDLP (seven councillors) receive extra allowances for their group chair and group vice chair, while the PUP (three councillors) just receives extra for its group leader.

The TUV, Greens and People Before Profit do not receive any extra money for a group chair.

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