SLOUGH councillors are set to receive a ‘long overdue’ pay rise.

Members accepted the Independent Remuneration Panel’s recommendations to raise their basic allowance from £7,779 to £8,438 – a £659 increase – at a full council meeting on November 24 (Tuesday).

The panel is a separate entity from the council and determines the level of pay for elected officials.

Cllr James Swindlehurst (Labour: Cippenham Green), leader of the council, acknowledged the timing of report wasn’t the best – but said this report was ‘long overdue’ as a review into their basic allowance hasn’t been conducted since 2010.

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He also said the pay rise won’t be implemented until next April as it will be rolled into the budget process.

The council leader said members don’t have to take up the full allowance if they don’t want to, and that he would be donating some funds from his pot to Slough foodbank.

Cllr Swindlehurst’s special responsibility allowance (SRA) – which covers council leaders, deputy leaders, and cabinet members – will be increased from £20,224 to £21,939.

The deputy leader will see a pay rise of £15,357 and cabinet members’ SRA will be increased from £11,123 to £12,066 a year.

The panel was asked to review their basic allowance in February 2020, where they concluded Slough councillors are ‘significantly’ less remunerated compared to other Berkshire authorities.

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Bracknell has a basic allowance of £8,687 – which is the highest in Berkshire – and councillors from Windsor and Maidenhead receive £8,143 a year.

Cllr Swindlehurst said this will ‘restore that in balance’ where Slough will be in line with its neighbouring councils as they do the same hours and duties.

The leader of the opposing Conservatives, councillor Wayne Strutton (Haymill and Lynch Hill), said he was ‘disappointed’ this wasn’t being pushed until next year given the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “I don’t think it’s appropriate for councillors this year to take a pay rise because of Covid and everything else until we’re out of it and we know the effects of the immunisations will have.

“Many people are facing difficult times at the moment and I think it’s inappropriate for us to take a pay rise this year.”

A majority of councillors voted for a pay rise and four Conservative members voted against.