Lib Dem ministers follow advice for councillors and give 10% to the party

Over the last few years there has been an increasingly common pattern in the party of asking or expecting councillors to contribute sums to their local party or council group to help pay for the campaigning that got them elected and for other support. The standard request is for the equivalent of 10% of what they receive in allowances (often with adjustments for less well off councillors).

As Michael Crick reports, Liberal Democrat ministers are taking a similar approach:

Nick Clegg and his 19 fellow Liberal Democrat ministers are giving around 10% of their ministerial salaries to the party.

“We are asked [to do it] rather than have to,” one minister tells me. “Much like councillors in local authorities who are usually asked to pay something to the party if they get an extra allowance.”

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29 Comments

  • @matt you seem to be confusing expenses and allowances which are two different things.

    Personally I have always thought Lib Dem MPs ought to be encouraged to donate 10% of their salary to the party nevermind their ministerial salaries.

  • Colin Green 8th Dec '10 - 7:27pm

    Matt,

    I’ve never heard of a councillor negotiating up their allowance because they have to give 10% of it to the party. I think you’re protesting about a problem that doesn’t exist. £8k is hardly “raking it in”. A full time job on the minimum wage is £11.5k so not many people will earn less than this in their job.

  • Scott Walker 8th Dec '10 - 8:01pm

    Hi Matt
    I understand why you think councillors shouldn’t receive expenses and why, in the current climate particularly, councillors should carefully consider any amount of money they take from the system. One of the key point to the debate, however, is that anyone should be able to afford to be a councillor. It’s one of the Chartist principles that first meant MPs received salaries, and it wasn’t only the nobility that could afford to run for election.
    Any group of councillors that awarded themselves higher salaries in order to return greater funds to their parties should be expelled in my opinion, but I honestly don’t believe it widely happens.

  • On MP’s, I see nothing wrong with the 10%, they’re paid a wage but there is something off about allowances being used to fund the party.

  • Hove Howard 8th Dec '10 - 10:48pm

    In the 80s the Militant Tendancy used to ‘tithe’ all their members.

    But they were a wacky bunch of centralists, overly beholden to the whims of their increasingly out-of-touch and power crazed leadership, who in the end led them over a cliff.

  • Matt printing of Focus leaflets is not funded by ‘central office’. I speak from direct knowledge of the situation where you are in Norwich.

    There are issues about the way Norwich City Council allowances are done – certainly one party has used the system to get quite a lot of councillors who have no outside or much life experience in a high proportion of their group (although there are exceptions. However when you compare Norwich to the sourounding districts it does have few councillors, the case work load is certainly high for a City Councillor than many other in Norfolk. Partly the social nature of the City and also the fact that wards are larger and their are few councillors. Ultimatily at least in the City we do have groups from all parties that are more diverse with people of different ages and backgrounds to a much greater exstent than any of the other Norfolk Districts.

  • I hav e to say some of the comments here are sadly misinformed. The allowance I was paid when a councillor did not even meet the minimum wage requirements.Do people really think individuals work as Councillors for fun that it is some kiind of entertainment. Most Councillors are honest hard working individuals who are trying to do a good job representing their community and that applies across the parties. As for the money we spend on campaigning, it comes out of our own pockets and those of our local members, Lib Dems do not benefit from huge contributions from high net wortjh individuals or Trade Unions.

  • Matt, your comprehension of “public service” fits into two possible worlds – a world of landed gentry, in which those who are independently wealthy deign to donate some of their spare time from hunting and shooting to local service – and a world where all are provided with food and housing to meet their needs, regardless of their financial situation.

    We certainly don’t inhabit the second of those worlds, and I’m very glad we no longer inhabit the first.

    Serving as a councillor is not a financially rewarding activity – it generally pays at, or well below the level of minimum wage, despite the fact that between meetings, casework, and working for residents can easily, if allowed, take up far more time than a full time job.

    Cabinet members and council leaders get Special Responsibility Allowances that ‘pay’ them more, as they are supposed to be working more hours, and harder, running departments, or the entire council. In my home authority (North Somerset), the basic allowance is £7,815 – at minimum wage level, that’s 25 hours per week, rather less than a full time job. The council leader gets £24664 in addition – for leading an authority with thousands of employees, and millions of pounds expenditure. That is not an attractive level of compensation – someone who’s competent to run it can get paid far better elsewhere. If a competent person is doing that, it’s probably through dedication, and certainly not financial reward.

    Employers are obliged to give time off for council meetings if they take place during the work day, but they are not obliged to pay people for them. I’ve seen people miss out on both pay, and as a result pension contributions as a result of this, but still they do it, thanks to their selfless dedication, because the allowance in part compensates them. The idea that we should return to a time when only the wealthy could afford to be civic minded is horrifying, and an insult to the public at large.

  • Stuart Smith 9th Dec '10 - 1:33pm

    Most of the talk about Councillors here appears to have been about ones in England. In Scotland, Councillors are paid a salary (min 15k) per year and then put in claims for expenses. Because they are paid, its not a “public service duty” as some people have mentioned. It’s only right , therefore, that if Scottish Councillors wish to “keep in touch all year round” they “pay” something to local party funds to help pay for the leaflets that the volunteers deliver.

  • toryboysnevergrowup 9th Dec '10 - 2:50pm

    Is that all the Party gets for selling its soul to the devil.

  • all properties in aberystwyth should pay council tax and landlords who own several properties and rent them out to non paying council taxpayers should pay council tax and business rates .its unfair to keep raising the council tax on the hard pressed local taxpayer im a pensioner i live in a 3 bed detached house which i worked all my life to pay for i live alone and my council tax is more than i weeks state pension after 25% deduuction i cannot get a reduction as i have a small occupation pension
    the landlords mentioned above have all the same services as paying council taxpayers and some or most of their properties are multiple occupancies
    i suggest you put this matter forward in the house of commons as the law needs to be changed

  • Matt, two quick points:

    1. This is common across political parties.

    2. Of course councillors’ allowances are subject to tax, why on earth do you assume they aren’t?

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