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Elected councillor and deductions

Martynh
Martynh Member Posts: 25 Courageous
Hi.

I'm currently on track to be elected as a Borough councillor in May (although it's far from guaranteed), and if I am elected, I would receive an allowance of about £65 a week.

As I receive DLA, and my wife receives Income Support and Carers Allowance I know we can keep £20 a week, but my question is, due to having mobility issues and also periods of cognitive issues, fatigue and more, would I be able to use some of the £45 a week to pay for some help with casework/admin, casework software, meeting spaces for residents to come and see me etc?
I know I have to claim any expenses that I am permitted to claim, as I will be treated as though I have done so.

As it is, I will basically be using the £20 I can keep to help pay for a scooter to get around the area to check on issues, visit residents etc.

I've contacted the DWP multiple times, and they can't (or won't) give me an answer, neither can the council.

Any advice is extremely welcome.
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Comments

  • woodbine
    woodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 5,659 Disability Gamechanger
    hi @Martynh that's an interesting question to which I have no answer, to be honest as its as you say not gauranteed and its 5 months away I would be tempted to leave it till the new year and then start pressing the DWP for an answer, are there no other current councillors in a similar situation you could speak to?
    I am a person with epilepsy not an epileptic, my illness doesn't define me.
  • Martynh
    Martynh Member Posts: 25 Courageous
    edited December 2020
    woodbine said:
    hi @Martynh that's an interesting question to which I have no answer, to be honest as its as you say not gauranteed and its 5 months away I would be tempted to leave it till the new year and then start pressing the DWP for an answer, are there no other current councillors in a similar situation you could speak to?
    I actually started asking the DWP in 2007 - I've still never received any informative answer, other than I could keep £20 a week (I tried 2007-2011 and started asking again in 2019 as I was mean to be standing in 2020 until covid hit), I'm also not aware of any other councillors in a similar position that are likely to talk to me.

    Unlike previous years though, it is highly likely I will get in this time.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 24,776 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi,

    The Income Support claim is as a couple, not just for your wife. I think it will depend what exactly the £65 is because you've just said it's an "allowance" but that's not telling me anything at all. It's unlikely that you'll have an answer from a DWP advisor because they mostly just read from a screen. So i'm not suprised you've never got an answer from them.

    Have you thought about speaking to an advice agency near you to ask them? If you haven't then i'd advise you to do that by starting here. https://advicelocal.uk/

  • Martynh
    Martynh Member Posts: 25 Courageous
    Hi,

    The Income Support claim is as a couple, not just for your wife. I think it will depend what exactly the £65 is because you've just said it's an "allowance" but that's not telling me anything at all. It's unlikely that you'll have an answer from a DWP advisor because they mostly just read from a screen. So i'm not suprised you've never got an answer from them.

    Have you thought about speaking to an advice agency near you to ask them? If you haven't then i'd advise you to do that by starting here. https://advicelocal.uk/

    I tried CAB and Welfare Rights, but they just sent me a copy of some legislation that didn't explain anything, other than it being permitted work, and suggested I call the DWP.

    As for the allowance, elected councillors don't receive a wage, they receive an annual allowance to compensate for the time they give (above Parish level), where I live it works out at about £65 a week.
    The only real info I've had applied to UC and not Income Support.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 24,776 Disability Gamechanger
    Well the permitted work doesn't apply here because that only applies to those claiming ESA, it doesn't apply to an Income Support claim. If it's similar to a wage then yes £20 per week will be disregarded but after that your income Support will be reduced £1 for £1.

    If you do get in this time then once you report the changes it will be down to a decision maker to decide how much if any of those earnings will affect your Income Support.
  • woodbine
    woodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 5,659 Disability Gamechanger
    One other thought if you are standing for one of the main political parties could they not advise?
    I am a person with epilepsy not an epileptic, my illness doesn't define me.
  • Martynh
    Martynh Member Posts: 25 Courageous
    woodbine said:
    One other thought if you are standing for one of the main political parties could they not advise?
    It isn't one of the big parties. I have asked on the various discussion channels we have, but again, only some on UC have any experience with it, and UC has different rules.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 24,776 Disability Gamechanger
    My only advice is, you're not in yet, it you do get in then you'll need to report the changes and let DWP decide what affect this will have on your Income Support.
  • littleacorn
    littleacorn Member Posts: 242 Pioneering
    Just wondering if you get an allowance especially if DWP deem it more like a salary  are you then entitled to an access to work support to help with admin etc?
  • Martynh
    Martynh Member Posts: 25 Courageous
    Just wondering if you get an allowance especially if DWP deem it more like a salary  are you then entitled to an access to work support to help with admin etc?
    Worth checking, thanks :)
  • newborn
    newborn Member Posts: 728 Pioneering
    It would appear to be essential expenses allowance, for people to avoid needing to spend hours filling in expenses sheets for a bus fare here and a babysitter there and various phone calls, concerned with completing your duties as an elected local government member.  By all means check, possibly with whoever is a current incumbent but not a rival, in another L.A., but it would be astonishing if any income in the form of assumed reimbursement of necessary expenses will be regarded as income. 
    Do employed councillors declare this as additional earnings, for tax purposes?   I doubt it.  The executive department in, preferably, a different authority will explain the rules.  (Remember the vast sums M.Ps give themselves, tax free, as an 'expenses allowance')
    If expenses reimbursement or allowance income is not income for rich people, but is for those on disability benefits, it is a form of discrimination.  But really, I doubt it.   

    By the way, go you!  Every council ought to have a population mirror of members who are old, and who are disabled.  How else can they make reasonable decisions for their entire resident population?  Best of luck













    i
  • Martynh
    Martynh Member Posts: 25 Courageous
    newborn said:
    It would appear to be essential expenses allowance, for people to avoid needing to spend hours filling in expenses sheets for a bus fare here and a babysitter there and various phone calls, concerned with completing your duties as an elected local government member.  By all means check, possibly with whoever is a current incumbent but not a rival, in another L.A., but it would be astonishing if any income in the form of assumed reimbursement of necessary expenses will be regarded as income. 
    Do employed councillors declare this as additional earnings, for tax purposes?   I doubt it.  The executive department in, preferably, a different authority will explain the rules.  (Remember the vast sums M.Ps give themselves, tax free, as an 'expenses allowance')
    If expenses reimbursement or allowance income is not income for rich people, but is for those on disability benefits, it is a form of discrimination.  But really, I doubt it.   

    By the way, go you!  Every council ought to have a population mirror of members who are old, and who are disabled.  How else can they make reasonable decisions for their entire resident population?  Best of luck













    i
    Councillors can claim travel expenses, childcare expenses etc, so the allowance is additional, and yes, it is declared for tax purposes.
  • littleacorn
    littleacorn Member Posts: 242 Pioneering
    Just wondering do disabked ward councillors get additional expenses to support them with this role as you would get additional help if it was employment. If not will this stop some disaled people from applying as they could not afford the additional costs it may bring.
  • Martynh
    Martynh Member Posts: 25 Courageous
    I'm not aware of any obviously disabled councillors locally in recent times - there have been elderly ones, but certainly none that have anything visible, so I'm not entirely sure - but there's certainly nothing in the remuneration details or anything they send to candidates to indicate anything, nor do any of the councillors I talk to know if anything.

    There used to be a fund to help disabled candidates with addition expenses, but it ended. There was a trial of a new system, but that ended around April this year.

    As it isn't classed as employment, I'm not sure how things stand with regards to reasonable adjustments etc.

    As it is, the council chamber is definitely not acccessible, as all seats are on a slightly raised platform, with very little room between rows (although with Covid, everything is via video conferencing).
    Even the public gallery is raised, when I've attended a full council meeting on my scooter, I've had to sit on it just inside the doorway, which definitely wasn't ideal.
    If I am elected, it will definitely cause some issues!

  • littleacorn
    littleacorn Member Posts: 242 Pioneering
    Good on you raising unfair treatment. Keep us updated and good luck.
  • newborn
    newborn Member Posts: 728 Pioneering
    I wish we could all vote for you!   This is shocking, so long after the DDA.    Best wishes
  • Martynh
    Martynh Member Posts: 25 Courageous
    Thanks everyone.

    I did try emailing the DWP central contact centre again, but the reply I got was to call the local Job Centre - which I did.
    They said that it's not a situation they can advise on, so email the central contact centre....

    I think I'll give up and just see what happens.
  • poppy123456
    poppy123456 Member Posts: 24,776 Disability Gamechanger
    In all honesty, contacting anyone from DWP call centre for advice regarding this is the last thing i would want to do. If you can't find a definite answer the only thing to do if you are elected is to report the changes and let a decision maker decide.
  • Martynh
    Martynh Member Posts: 25 Courageous
    So. I won my election and I am now a Borough Councillor!
    I have been in touch with the DWP, spent 28 hours in queues and spoken to 6 different advisors who didn't know the rules, before finally being called by a decision maker - who also does t know the rules.

    Initially the decision maker said they would deduct the entire allowance, until I reminded them of the disregard, at which point they admitted I would keep £20pw, but they also tried to say that I can't have any expenses taken into account.

    I read her a piece of case law that a lawyer friend found, so now they are going to check the legal books and any case law and get back to me, but until then I can't spend anything.

    If they don't allow reasonable expenses for things like postage, stationary etc then it is going to severely limit my ability to be an effective councillor, but I will also be pushing for reasonable adjustments under equality laws.
  • woodbine
    woodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 5,659 Disability Gamechanger
    @Martynh well done you on becoming a councillor, I assume your council has an HR department maybe they could help?
    I am a person with epilepsy not an epileptic, my illness doesn't define me.

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