Headlines: June 5th, 2009

Councillors elected for the first time in yesterday’s polls are being offered a series of guides to help them do the job. They have been produced by the Local Government Information Unit, which says the current debacle over MPs’ expenses has increased councillors’ anxieties about how to work properly within the rules.

The set of four guides are designed to help new members make an impact, to get to know their ward, to work as part of a team and to develop their understanding of their council. Each of the guides includes a checklist reminding members what type of support they can ask for from their council.

Tracy Gardiner, a policy analyst at the LGiU Centre for Local Democracy, said the new guides offered condensed advice. “New councillors often get buried under an off-putting volume of paper giving more information than they could possibly absorb,” she said. The LGiU believes the booklets could also be invaluable for returning councillors.

The organisation has also revised its Councillors’ Tax and Benefits guide in the light of what is happening in the Commons and because of the wide variation in councillors’ allowances across the country. It says the rules on councillors’ allowances, income tax, social security and pensions are complex and recent changes in the tax and benefits system will also affect their earnings.

The guide informs councillors about the duties introduced by the Local Government Act 2000, including the need for councils to establish independent remuneration panels.