Birmingham City Council facing allowances criticisms

Some stark claims have been made this week about Birmingham City Councillors. It’s said that they ‘take home highest allowance in UK’ and that they are ‘raking in more than £16,500’.

The stories are based on new research by the TaxPayers’ Alliance into allowances paid to local councillors: its press release of 29 August lists Birmingham as the metropolitan council that, at £16,267, pays its councillors more than any other in England.

What kind of value are council taxpayers actually getting for this money?

The most striking fact though is that a bit of number crunching reveals that while Birmingham is the top in the West Midlands in terms of population, it is at the bottom of the second table below, which compares how much each councillor is paid per head of population. This in fact makes Birmingham City Councillors the cheapest in the West Midlands. The third table places Birmingham third out of nine for value per ward.

The tables compare the nine West Midlands councils covered by the mainstream stories in the Birmingham Mail and the Birmingham Post:

  • table 1 shows a simple population comparison;
  • table 2 is ordered by how much a councillor is paid per head of population; and
  • table 3 is ordered by payment per ward.

Birmingham City Council has 120 councillors in 40 wards representing 1,073,000 people. Birmingham has the highest population outside London and each councillor represents roughly 9,000 people. The basic allowance paid to councillors is £16,267, is ‘based on a weekly time commitment of 26 hours’ and reflects the fact that Birmingham’s electoral wards are the largest in the UK.

The statistics quoted are from Wikipedia.


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