On Monday night’s meeting of Camden Council, councillors passed Camden’s budget. The budget includes an eye-watering 5% hike in Council – bringing the increase since 2014 to 17% – and cuts in many front-line services.
Unlike the Conservative alternative budget, it would have let a large number of sensible, fiscally-responsible policies – like hiring more police at half-price or installing electric car chargers at 75% off – slip through out fingers.
Against this backdrop, where Labour claim not to have any money, I was pretty aghast to see them support increasing councillors’ allowances by 2%. Elections are in two months, and all parties have selected their candidates. You can’t pretend that not hiking allowances now would deter those candidates from standing!
Furthermore, the proposal was cleverly to allow the allowance to be increased after the election on 3rd May, but backdated to 1st April. This way, councillors could pay themselves more while hiking taxes and cutting services, but claim to residents on the doorstep that they hadn’t.
Not being a fan of councillors cynically awarding themselves a pay rise through the back door despite their failings, I objected and committed to giving any increase in my allowance should one be agreed to a good cause in Hampstead Town ward.
Yes, the cost of living is increasing, but when councillors take it upon themselves to hike Council Tax and reduce services, they should take inflation on the chin and accept they won’t get a pay rise for under-performing. If Labour want to blame the government for not having any money, they should look to make economies a little closer to home.