To receive the observations of the Democratic Services Committee in response to the consultation.
Submitted - observations from the meeting attended by the Chair of this Committee and the Head of Democratic Services with members of the Independent Panel. It was noted that a slight increase of 0.75% in the basic salary for elected members was intended for next year following the Council elections. This meant an increase of £100 per annum. The committee was asked for its comments.
It was reported that the purpose of the reimbursement of care costs was to enable people from a range of backgrounds and circumstances to be elected members by enabling them to attend meetings. It was noted that no claim for reimbursement of care costs had been made recently as negative publicity had derived from the publication of care cost repayment claims.
In terms of recording the reason why a member had been absent from a meeting, it was noted that the intention was in order to inform others that a member had been unable to attend as they were elsewhere on Council business.
Observations arising from the discussion:-
· What was the response of other councils? In response, the Senior Democracy and Delivery Manager noted that there was a difference of opinion in general, with a few councils refusing the proposal.
· That the proposal should be accepted in principle, in order to encourage candidates from different backgrounds to stand in an election.
· That it was important to refrain from sharing details regarding care cost repayment claims as part of freedom of information requests. In response, the Senior Corporate Support Manager noted that details regarding the repayments was not information covered under the 'right to information'. As checks that the money had been distributed appropriately would be carried out along normal channels.
· A record should be kept of when members were absent due to other Council business, and that organisations should be aware of meetings arranged by other organisations and the demand of that on members' time.
· That the Panel should not receive an invitation to speak with the Full Council. In response, the Senior Corporate Support Manager noted that the Panel wished to hear different voices, and that this did not necessarily have to happen in the Full Council.
a) to support the proposal to increase the basic allowance from £13,300 to £13,400
b) in order to encourage more eligible members to claim the care costs support, to give support that the total reclaimed by the authority during the year should be published, but without attributing the payments to any member, and to ask the Panel also to consider how to ensure that freedom of information requests in the future did not mean that authorities have to release information about care cost repayment claims per individual.
c) support the proposed new arrangements for the sickness absence of a recipient of a higher salary.
ch) to support the recommendation to note the reason for the absence where it is as a result of a member representing the Council at another meeting, whilst noting that individual members have to provide the information themselves.
d) to invite the Panel to meet with the Democratic Services Committee in the future and not with the Full Council.