BARNSLEY’S councillors collectively pocketed almost £1m in the last year through annual allowances and expenses, figures obtained by the Chronicle revealed.

There are 63 councillors, three in each ward, and each received a basic allowance of £11,620 in 2020/21 - a rise on last year’s £11,309 according to a report.

However, it is only £645 more than they were paid a decade ago.

Back then, in response to huge budget cuts from central government, councillors voted to cut their own pay by five per cent, and it didn’t increase at all until 2015/16.

In addition to their basic allowance, some councillors receive special responsibility pay for carrying out extra duties, such as serving on the council’s ruling cabinet, or chairing committees such as planning or licensing.

Council leader Steve Houghton was paid the most at £39,865, with deputy leader Coun Jim Andrews second at £30,063, followed by cabinet members Margaret Bruff, Tim Cheetham, Alan Gardiner, Jenny Platts and Chris Lamb who all breached the £25,000 mark.

Coun Steve Green who represents the Monk Bretton ward has refused any increase in allowance since he was elected onto the council so still receives £10,426.

The total paid to all councillors in allowances and expenses for the financial year was £986,703.37 a rise on the previous year’s £969,581.28.

A council statement said: “All councillors receive a basic allowance in recognition of the work they do on behalf of the community, such as representing their constituents and attending council meetings.

“Members with extra responsibilities, for example cabinet members and chairpersons of regulatory boards, also receive a ‘special responsibility allowance’ for the extra work involved.”

Councillors’ basic rates collectively topped £719,000 a £20,000 rise in 12 months with extra responsibilities accounting for a further £257,000.

Barnsley Council also paid just over £10,000 in mileage allowances during the financial year, according to the report, despite large spells of the year being disrupted by Covid restrictions and councillors’ meetings being done virtually.

It comes just weeks after the Taxpayers’ Alliance revealed the council’s nine highest-earning employees pocketed more than £1.1m in wages and pensions.

Coun Alan Gardiner, cabinet spokesperson for core services, said: “Councillors play a vital role in our democracy and throughout the pandemic have continued to serve the people of Barnsley, both through local case work, and voting and taking part in democratic meetings.

“I’d like to thank them all for their service over the last year which has been so challenging for everyone.”