HC Deb 04 March 2002 vol 381 cc104-5W
Mr. Paice

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions what guidance he gives to local authorities on(a) the payment of members' allowances and (b) employment of political staff. [40282]

Dr. Whitehead

We issued local authorities with guidance on allowances for councillors in April 2001. Local authorities are required to have regard to the statutory parts of this guidance, as well as to the relevant legislation.

The guidance sets out that basic and special responsibility allowances are discretionary allowances, with levels set by individual local authorities, having regard to the recommendations of their independent remuneration panels. Local authorities are required to publish the details of their scheme of allowances, the amount of each allowance paid to each member, and the recommendations of their independent remuneration panel.

The maximum levels payable to councillors for travel and subsistence are governed by section 174 of the Local Government Act 1972. They were last updated in April 2000 by an Annex to Circular 1/86.

The employment of political staff is covered by section 9 of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. There may be no more than three political assistants in a Local Authority. These posts are usually assigned to the three largest political groups which have ten per cent. or more of the membership of the authority, unless the authority decides to allow a different minority group to appoint a political assistant. Where only one political group has more than 10 per cent. of the authority's membership, that group and the next largest group will be entitled to appoint a political assistant. A political assistant may not discharge any of an authority's functions, nor may they direct any staff except for their own clerical or secretarial support. The maximum remuneration of political assistants is set by the Local Government (Assistant for Political Groups) (Remuneration) Order 1995, and is currently £25,044.

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