A REVIEW of councillors’ allowances is to be launched at a local authority where elected members have repeatedly rejected recommendations to pay them more due to austerity.

Members of Darlington Borough Council are expected to approve launching an independent review by a panel of business leaders of their allowances.

Councillors each receive a basic allowance of £8,188, while a range of other allowances are paid to members with special responsibilities.

The leader receives an extra £22,933, the deputy leader £13,759 and cabinet members £11,467.

A report to a full meeting of the authority next week states at the last four-yearly review, the panel recommended that allowances be increased in line with the annual pay award for employees.

The panel will consider whether councillors allowances should still be linked to staff pay awards, make recommendations as to whether any further allowances should be payable and whether any adjustment should be made to the allowances in the current financial climate.

However, while approving recent budgets, such as the one for 2016/17, councillors unanimously rejected recommendations to increase their allowances.

Councillor Anne-Marie Curry, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the authority, said: “When we were going through the austerity process we have rejected increases in allowances and while we are still not out of that problem there’s also great uncertainty surrounding the impact of Brexit. We should consider keeping allowances as they are at the moment or amalgamating roles to make savings.”

While some councillors say comparisons with the allowances paid at other local authorities provide a useful indicator, others say responsibilities and roles at different councils can vary markedly, as can other expenses and benefits handed out.

Nearby authorities Durham, North Yorkshire, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton all pay a higher basic allowance to their councillors, but Hartlepool, Richmondshire, Hambleton and Middlesbrough give their members less. Allowances for those councillors range from £13,300 to £3,000.

Members of the independent panel will include a former academic at the Institute of Local Government, a retired chair of Business Link Tees Valley and a former member of the chief officer management team of Cleveland County Council.

Labour group leader Councillor Stephen Harker said: “It is a difficult issue as it courts a lot of public views. What we have in place is an attempt to make it as independent from members as it possibly can be.”

The authority’s leader Councillor Heather Scott said every member of the authority would vote on whether to accept when the panel made its recommendations next year.