Cllr. Howard Roberts

Cllr. Howard Roberts

Saturday, 9 February 2013

All Three Political Groups in Rugby Should Support My Budget Proposal

Last week I publicised my budget proposal to reduce annual Rugby Borough Council expenditure by £123,000. This idea would enable approximately a 2% reduction in council tax. Nearly three quarters of the savings I have identified are by reducing councillor allowances in line with other district councils in Warwickshire.

Taxpayers in the villages I represent are sure to question why the councillors who represent them are paid £1,700 more a year than the councillors who represent, for example, the nearby village of Eathorpe. There is no satisfactory answer.

No distracting claims over chief executive salaries or management arrangements explains why Rugby’s basic councillor allowances should be up to 27.7% higher than neighbouring authorities. So will the Town’s local political parties support my proposal? I hope so, and here is why my idea should command cross-party support:

-          - The Conservative party should be attracted to an idea that will reduce the tax burden of the Town’s population. It reduces the amount of money spent by the state, giving greater freedom to individual citizens.
-          - The Labour party should recognise that council tax is a regressive tax. It does not take into account the ability to pay. Ipso facto any reduction will benefit the Town’s poorest most.
-          - The Liberal Democrats should buy into a proposal that reduces council tax because the general thrust accords with their national animosity to this method of taxation.

I look forward to debating my proposal at budget setting. As a fully costed, tax-cutting plan that preserves frontline services I believe it deserves to be seriously considered.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Cut Councillors’ Allowances to Reduce Council Tax

Rugby Borough Council awards its Councillors over 20% more in annual allowances than any of the other district councils in Warwickshire. This fact has seen me propose a reduction of Rugby Borough Councillors’ allowances in a radical money saving idea. Equalisation of allowances in line with the levels of other councils would raise enough money to cut resident’s borough council tax bills by around 1.5%.

Councillor allowances have historically been set by an independent remuneration panel. I think Council should take the initiative and reduce the current basic allowance from £6,227 to £4,500 at the annual budget meeting in February. By statute the council has freedom to set the allowance level – with reference to independent review. In 2010 the allowances were reviewed and in the independent report mention was made of the difference between Rugby Borough Council’s basic allowances and that of neighbouring councils. 

The Councils of Nuneaton, Stratford, Warwick and North Warwickshire annually pay their councillors around £1700 less for doing the same job as councillors in Rugby. This anomaly could easily be rectified, allowing Rugby Borough Council to reduce council tax by 1.5%.

If we can use this saving to cut council tax I believe it would be appreciated by many in the Borough. As wages remain static while retail prices increase, any reduction in household expenditure will be welcomed.

In my plan Rugby Borough Council allowances reduced to £4,500, with any special responsibility allowances paid to councillors in executive positions reduced by the same percentage (27.7%).

The public endlessly hear council officials talk about reducing back office costs without hitting frontline services – this proposal does exactly that. We can reduce our allowances to the level of our neighbouring councils - whose members are just as qualified - and save enough money to give Rugby residents a cut in their annual council tax bill.

Any argument that states the council will lose good councillors if we reduce allowances belittles the hard working and intelligent councillors of other towns in Warwickshire. They work just as hard as we do – but get a smaller allowance. This is because they recognise being a councillor shouldn’t be about the financial reward, it should be about the reward of public service.


1.     Basic Allowances of the other district councils in Warwickshire:
Nuneaton Borough Council                             £4,734,
Stratford District Council                                £4,500,
Warwick District Council                                £4,631,
North Warwickshire Borough Council            £4,942,
Rugby Borough Council                                  £6,227.

2.    The current proposed Council Tax Base (how much RBC will receive from taxes is £6,210,000. The total savings that I will propose in my budget amendment are £123,232. This would be a reduction in required council tax of 1.98%.