TOP councillors at Sedgemoor are to get a pay rise of 36 PER CENT.

The increase will see allowances for members of the Executive committee at Sedgemoor District Council rise from £6,717 for 2018/19, to £9,136 for 2019/20.

An Independent Remuneration Panel, made up of independent business representatives and members of the community, recommended the increase.

However, opposition councillors say they are "disgusted" by the rise.

The increase was approved at Sedgemoor District Council’s meeting on Wednesday (December 12).

Somerset County Councillor Bill Revans, a Liberal Democrat, was at the meeting and said he was "flabbergasted" by the proposals.

“I was absolutely disgusted," he said. "It got nodded through.

"You can cut £150,000 from the budget for your staff but you can pay your top councillors extra?

"To me, that makes no sense at all.”

Labour councillor, Leigh Redman, said: “This has been approved on the same day the council made note of £150,000 saving due to staff restructuring that saw senior managers workload increase considerably following some roles being absorbed.

“In these times of austerity, on one hand we are making our staff do more with less, while on the other senior councillors award themselves massive pay increases.

“Regardless of what the Independent Remuneration Panel suggests, as councillors we can amend the proposal.”

Sedgemoor District Council said that based on a 35-hour week, an Executive member's allowance comes in at £5.40 per hour.

“Given the number of hours worked by Executive members, which were verified by the Independent Panel, the allowance does not take the ‘wage’ up to the level of the Living Wage Foundation from January 1, 2019 to £9 per hour," a spokesman said.

“The Independent Remuneration Panel recommended that all members of council (cross party) received a two per cent pay rise.

"Members had deferred any increases in their allowances until staff had received the nationally negotiated pay rises for public sector workers.

“This allowance is known as the Basic Allowance and is paid to all members. Executive members and committee chairmen (and their deputies) also receive a Special Responsibility Allowance for their additional duties as well as the Basic Allowance.

“Executive members are ultimately responsible for running the multi-million pound business of Sedgemoor District Council and the services which it delivers to its residents.

"The Panel decided to increase the multiplying factor for Executive members from 1.5 to 2 times the Basic Allowance to reflect their responsibility.

“Sedgemoor District Council is not cutting budgets or services. Sedgemoor has increased services in the past year; introducing Somerset Independent Plus as well as taking over responsibility from Somerset County Council of the ‘‘Supporting People” scheme.

"Sedgemoor has also provided additional support for people claiming Universal Credit.

“With specific regard to Executive members, their allowances had dropped behind some committee chairmen.

"Sedgemoor District Council is going through a digital transformation programme, which will ultimately see staff figures decline.

"There are also plans for the number of Executive members to decrease in line with staff numbers."