DURHAM county councillors have overwhelmingly rejected a report suggesting a one per cent increase in allowances.

Full council discussed allowances for 2019/20 following recommendations from the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP). If approved, the scheme would have seen basic allowance for councillors rise by £133 per year – from £13,300 to £13,433.

It comes a time when council bosses face increased demand on childrens’ services and a potential £19million being cut from its public health grant.

Under current predictions, the council also needs to save nearly £40million over the next four years.

However, the council’s Constitutional Working Group (CWG) called for the proposed rise in allowances to be to be scrapped after looking at evidence.

The recommendations were rubber stamped by councillors at Durham County Hall.

County council’s leader, Councillor Simon Henig said: “As chair of the CWG I thank members of the IRP for their work and recommendations on the members’ allowances scheme.

“Although the panel recommended a one per cent increase which would have been the first increase for ten years, the CWG felt that the current scheme should be continued into 2019/20 with no changes made.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, Cllr Amanda Hopgood, also welcomed the plans.

“I would like to emphasise what Coun Henig said in thanking the independent panel for considering a rise which would have been the first in ten years,” she said.

“However given the financial situation that both the country and council still face it would be inappropriate.

“And I would recommend that at this moment in time we don’t.”

The IRP met three times since October 24 2018 to review allowances in response to changes in Durham County Council’s committee structure and political makeup.

This included a decision to scrap the human resources committee and a reduce special responsibility allowances for its former chairman and vice-chairman.

The number of political groups increasing from six to seven due to the formation of the North East Party also saw an increase in opposition group leaders who are able to claim £3,325 a year.

As part of the review, councillors were also asked to express views to be included by the IRP.

Requests for allowances for cabinet support officers and free off-peak parking in council car parks for councillors were rejected during this process.

A committee report added: “Two councillors requested that there be no change to allowances, one of whom referencing that as the council was in some degree of financial crisis there should be a freeze on allowances.”

The new allowances will come into force in April . There will be no changes to special responsibility allowances.