The leader of Bromley Council’s allowance is set to jump up by nearly 25 per cent to £40,000, while staff pay at the authority will rise by 2.5 per cent in the same time, under new arrangements given the green-light by councillors.

Cllr Colin Smith’s allowance as leader of the Conservative-run authority will increase by nearly £9,000, in a move aimed at reflecting “the extent of the responsibility, the pressures and the competencies required for the role”. 

The move was opposed by Labour, but the Tory majority backed the plans for new pay and allowance rates, saying they were fair for staff and elected members alike.

Despite the increase, the leader’s new allowance will still be nearly £17,000 less than the London Councils Panel 2018 recommendation for what leaders should receive.

It’s also less than what neighbouring borough leaders have received over the last year, with Greenwich paying £52,458, Lewisham £77,722, and Croydon £44,083 for their leaders.

It came after the council’s general purposes and licensing committee earlier this month suggested the rises.

However the move was questioned by Labour, with Cllr Vanessa Allen asking why it was only the leader receiving a 25 per cent rise and not fellow members of the executive.

“Given the skills (of leader) are also needed by the portfolio holders…should the increase not have been applied to other members?” she asked. 

In response, Cllr Pauline Tunnicliffe, the general purposes and licensing committee chair, said: “Our portfolio holders’ allowances are much in line with other boroughs, while the leader’s has dropped substantially behind in recent years”. 

The changes to members’ allowances were subsequently voted through.

The rise in council staff wages were approved as well, but only after Labour tabled another proposal which would see all members of staff paid the London Living Wage, which was rejected.

While unions had also pushed for the introduction of the London Living Wage of £10.75 an hour, the authority had backed plans for which would see its lowest-paid workers earn £10.60 an hour.

In a report the council said the proposed rate of pay “far exceeded” the national minimum wage of £8.21.

“£10.75 an hour is not a lot of money…but it does better reflect the real cost of living in London,” Cllr Allen, who introduced the amendment, said.

She was supported by Labour leader Angela Wilkins, who said the move would be “really good for business and good for employees”. 

However the amendment was quashed by the Conservative majority, who instead went with the initial recommendation which would see staff wages rise by 2.5 per cent.

Resources, Commissioning and Contract Management portfolio member Graham Arthur backed the council’s original move and said that a range of benefits and working conditions made the authority attractive to work for.

“We are dependent on the quality of our staff; they are our most precious resource,” he said. 

He said the pay rises and additional conditions working for the council were needed to give the authority “an edge” when hiring staff, when “inner city councils probably offer a higher rate of pay than us”.