15 councillors ‘claiming a Town Hall pension’

First published in News

ONE-in-four Bolton councillors are claiming local government pensions funded by the taxpayer, a campaign group has claimed.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance has also criticised the amount of money it says families are having to pay towards the pensions of civil servants at the town hall.

In a report out today, the political pressure group claims £74.58 from every council tax bill in Bolton is being spent on contributions to council staff pensions, which, it says, totalled £19.875 million last year. It also says 15 of the borough’s 60 councillors are claiming a council pension, which it said “called into question the voluntary nature of participating in local government” and “suggests that more councillors are becoming professional politicians”.

Matthew Sinclair, director of the Alliance, said: “It is unacceptable that ordinary families and pensioners, who have seen council tax bills almost double in the last decade, have so much of their money spent on council pensions. These goldplated retirement deals have all but disappeared in the private sector and it simply isn’t sustainable to keep the system as it is. ”

But Matt Kilsby, chairman of Bolton Unison, said the claim that families were subsidising pensions was “a complete myth”.

He added: “It totally ignores the fact that 75 per cent of local authority income comes from sources other than council tax.” Labour councillor Nick Peel said: “It is a personal choice but this sounds like a storm in a tea cup. To be an executive member and hold down a full-time job at the same time is extremely hard.

“The pension scheme is part and parcel of the allowance and it enables ordinary men and women to be elected members.

“Forty or 50 years ago, it was only retired or selfemployed people who could afford to be a councillor.”

Leader of the Tories in Bolton, Cllr John Walsh, who does not claim a council pension, said it was a personal decision for councillors.

Cllr David Wilkinson said no one from the Lib Dems in Bolton claimed a local government pension.

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