CITY councillors have agreed to increase their pay by at least £88 a year.

Worcester City Council has been advised to increase basic allowances for councillors by as much as £264 a year but the recommendation was ignored with party leaders preferring a smaller increase to £4,474 a year.

The recommendation came from the Independent Remuneration Panel (IRP) - the body responsible for determining how much elected officials are paid - and comes following a freeze on basic allowances last year.

At a full meeting of the city council on Tuesday (February 24), Green group leader Cllr Louis Stephen said he was initially against a rise but felt allowances had to increase to attract more people to becoming councillors.

“I have to admit that initially I was a little bit hesitant to increase allowances but I have been persuaded and in fact am now convinced that we should be increasing allowances by two per cent," he said. "The reason why I am convinced is that last year the IRP also proposed that we increase our allowances and we chose, as a council, not to increase.

“What I would also say is that the IRP are proposing quite a significant increase of five per cent and what we are proposing tonight is to increase it by a much more modest two per cent. The biggest reason that I’m convinced we should be increasing allowances is that if we don’t keep track of the allowances, we could get to a point in the future where only rich people or possibly people who are retired and have time on their hands can become councillors.

“From an inclusivity point of view, I think we should try to keep our member’s allowances to a reasonable level.”

The panel recommended last year that the basic allowance for a city councillor should be increased to £4,526.

Councillors deferred a decision on the proposed raise at a full meeting last May and later agreed to freeze the cost of a basic allowance at £4,386 - £140 below the IRP's recommendation.

The three council group leaders met earlier this month and were shown six options for councillor allowances ranging from a one to five per cent increase.

The proposed increases would see the leader and deputy leader of the council both pocket £11,185 for the respective roles. The chair of the council’s important decision-making policy and resources committee would see an extra £7,829.50 based on increases from previous years and the chair of the planning committee would receive an extra £4,474 a year for the role with the committee vice chair receiving an extra £2,237 a year.

Chairs of various other council committees will receive an extra £6,711 for their roles based on the same increase as previous years.