| 4.3°C Belfast

Revealed: Allowances hiked for council leaders by seven Northern Ireland authorities since 2017

Close

Seven of Northern Ireland's 11 councils have increased the allowance given to their mayor or chairperson in the last three years. (stock photo)

Seven of Northern Ireland's 11 councils have increased the allowance given to their mayor or chairperson in the last three years. (stock photo)

Alex Dodd

Seven of Northern Ireland's 11 councils have increased the allowance given to their mayor or chairperson in the last three years. (stock photo)

Seven of Northern Ireland's 11 councils have increased the allowance given to their mayor or chairperson in the last three years.

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council gave the biggest hike to its mayor with a £4,728 rise, increasing from £7,272 in 2017/18 to £12,000 for 2019/20.

Allowances for mayors or council chairs are on top of the basic annual wage received by councillors of around £15,000.

The Belfast Telegraph obtained the figures in light of controversial plans to almost double the salary of the first citizen of Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council (ANC). The current post holder, John Smyth, spoke out over the possible rise, saying he is "not a secret millionaire".

The council has deferred the decision to increase the wage by 81%, and that of others, opting to appoint a consultant to assess the cost instead.

The special allowance for ANC's mayor is currently £13,797 for the annual term, but if the increase was allowed to go ahead that would rise to £25,000.

A review has suggested that the first citizen is paid less than the national living wage, but the mayor's salary is received on top of the annual basic allowance of £15,071 to each ANC councillor.

The councils which provided an increase to their chairpersons'/mayors' annual allowance, from highest to lowest, were:

• Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, £7,272 (2017/18) to £12,000 (2019/20), up £4,728 in three years.

• Mid Ulster District Council, £11,667 to £14,000, up by £2,333.

• Derry City and Strabane District Council, £30,113 to £31,950, up £1,837.

• Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council, £18,362 to £19,103, up £741.

• Ards and North Down Borough Council, £14,485 to £15,071, up by £586.

• Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, £13,261 to £13,797, up £536, and

• Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, £19,770 to £20,165.40, up £395.40.

The councils where the allowances remained the same between 2017/18 and 2019/20 were Belfast City Council (£34,800), Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council (£26,982), Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council (£12,000), and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (£10,000).

Harry Fone, the grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said many private sector workers "can only dream of such a boost to their pay packets".

He added: "A number of these rises are very generous to put it mildly."

The Northern Ireland Local Government Association (NILGA) added that it was not in a position to formally comment on individual allowances.

It added: "However, we would like to highlight the significant role delivered by each of the council first citizens which can include presiding over council meetings; promoting and raising awareness of key council objectives; attending and supporting a range of civic, public and sporting events; receiving and hosting distinguished visitors and guests to the area; promoting the council area as a tourism and business destination; supporting and encouraging community engagement and pride of place; and supporting, as appropriate, local charitable appeals."

Belfast Telegraph