Clive Betts, Chair of CLG Committee responds to embargoed comments made by the Conservative Party about the Councillors on the Frontline report.
"Our cross-party report considers a range of issues relating to the role and recruitment of councillors. Councillor allowances are one part of a much larger picture. During our inquiry, councillors from all three major parties told us that councils were reluctant to vote for an increase in allowances, for fear of the negative public and press reaction. I am saddened by the reaction of Brandon Lewis and Grant Shapps who have stoked this negativity and undermined a serious concern of councillors from their own party.
Allowances remain low and act as a deterrent for many considering whether to stand for election. This is particularly an issue for employed people and those with young families, who lose income when taking time out from work for their councillor duties. The Committee therefore called for councils to have the option to have decisions about allowances to be taken out of councillors’ hands and transferred to independent local bodies.
What the Committee did not say was that there should be a blanket increase in allowances. Indeed, we agreed with Brandon Lewis that these matters should be determined locally. For the health of local democracy, it is important that this issue does not become a national political football.
We found in our inquiry that political parties are achieving – and will achieve – much more when they work together to get a wider range of people to stand for election. We also found that people are put off by shallow political point scoring, which makes the response of Mr Lewis and Mr Shapps all the more disappointing."
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