Councillors' remuneration, allowances and expenses: guidance

Guidance revised in April 2010.


1. This document updates the guidance, issued in February 2008, on the content and implications of the Regulations specifying the levels of salary, allowances and reimbursement of expenses which may be paid to local authority elected members. The document can also be accessed at ( on the Scottish Government's website. This guidance is non-statutory, and is issued to provide advice. Local authorities should seek appropriate advice from their legal or financial advisers if any part of the regulations referred to in this document requires clarification.

2. This Guidance follows on from recommendations made by the Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee ( SLARC) in its 2009 Report "Annual Review of Remuneration for Local Authority Councillors" published in November 2009 (, The Scottish Government responded to the report on 10 February 2010 (

3. The regulations, which have been made in the Scottish Parliament and which give effect to councillors' remuneration, allowances and reimbursement of expenses are as follows:


Allowances and Expenses

Amendments to Primary Legislation

4. The amended regulations SSI 2010/45 came into effect on 5 April 2010 and SSI 2010/111 came into effect on 6 April 2010. SSI 2010/111 is relevant only to Islands Councils and clarifies the entitlement for councillors in Islands Councils to reclaim for travel by boat, where a direct public ferry service is not available between 2 islands in the same council area - see paragraphs 32 and 39.

Levels of Remuneration

5. In this guidance references to "remuneration" for councillors relate, generally, to the whole package of salary, allowances and reimbursement of actual receipted expenditure. For the purposes of the salary, allowance and expenses arrangements only, there will be 4 levels of payment, depending on the responsibilities of the councillor:

  • "Leader of the Council" - that is, the convener where councils use that term instead of Leader ( e.g. usually used by councils where the administration of the council is not linked to a particular political party) or such other councillor the authority decides should be termed as 'Leader of the Council' for remuneration purposes.
  • "Civic Head" - that is, the councillor who holds this title for remuneration purposes is at the Council's discretion. This is generally the Provost or Lord Provost. In some authorities this will be the depute convener, but in other authorities, the convener.
  • "Senior Councillor" - that is, a councillor who holds a significant position of responsibility in the Council's political management structure, for example, a convener of a major committee, the leader of a significant opposition group etc.
  • "Councillor" - that is, a councillor who is likely to hold no significant position of responsibility in the council's political management structure and who will receive the basic salary.

Banding of Local Authorities

6. Each local authority has been banded within Band A, Band B, Band C or Band D for the purposes of payment of remuneration to councillors. Information on the banding of each local authority can be found at ANNEX A


7. Any councillor, regardless of level of payment, will be able to renounce receipt of all or any part of his or her salary if he or she chooses to do so. Salaries should be paid either monthly or 4 weekly, as determined by the Council, and it is expected that they will be paid in arrears in the same way as, for example, staff salaries. Once elected, councillors would be available to the electorate on a daily basis and it is recommended that remuneration is calculated as such (1/365).

8. HM Revenue and Customs have confirmed that for income tax and national insurance purposes councillors are regarded as office holders and liable for PAYE and Class 1 National Insurance contributions. As such they would be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay and Statutory Maternity Pay on the same basis as other Class 1 contributors for as long as they remain councillors. Councils should consider this alongside their standing orders on when a councillor ceases to be regarded as a councillor and as such would trigger the need for a by-election. HM Revenue and Customs advise that Statutory Sick Pay and Statutory Maternity Pay are not social security benefits but replacement earnings. They are therefore taxable and subject to National Insurance contributions as income in the same way as other elements of their salary.

Childcare Vouchers

9. Some councillors may choose to sacrifice part of their salary in exchange for childcare vouchers. HMRC's view is that the same tax rules would apply to elected members who hold office as a local councillor as for employees. Therefore, the childcare tax exemption can also apply to elected members in the same way as for employees. Provided the various qualifying conditions are satisfied, councillors can be provided with childcare vouchers without any tax liabilities. It is for local authorities, on advice from their own legal and finance advisers, to consider whether they would wish to offer this benefit to their elected members.


10. All councillors who do not hold the position, for remuneration purposes, of Leader, Civic Head or Senior Councillor will receive a basic annual salary, with effect from 1 April 2009, of £16,234. This figure is set nationally in the Regulations - The Local Governance (Scotland) Act 2004 (Remuneration) Amendment Regulations 2008 ( SSI 2008/415), ( Councils are not able to vary this salary level.

Salary of the Leader of the Council

11. Each local authority will have one Leader of the Council to whom it will pay an annual salary dependant on the band at which each council has been set. As for the basic salary, the remuneration levels for Leaders have been fixed nationally. With effect from 1 April 2009 these are as follows:

  • Leaders of Councils in Band A £27,058
  • Leaders of Councils in Band B £32,470
  • Leaders of Councils in Band C £37,880
  • Leaders of Councils in Band D £48,704.

Salary of the Civic Head

12. Each local authority may have one Civic Head post and will have scope to determine the level of remuneration paid to that Civic Head up to a maximum of 75 per cent of the remuneration paid to the Council Leader. This means that the maximum salary that can be paid to Civic Heads, with effect from 1 April 2009, is as follows:

  • Civic Heads of Local Authorities in Band A £20,294
  • Civic Heads of Local Authorities in Band B £24,353
  • Civic Heads of Local Authorities in Band C £28,410
  • Civic Heads of Local Authorities in Band D £36,528.

NB. The councillor termed the 'Leader of the Council' and the councillor termed the 'Civic Head' for remuneration purposes cannot be the same person.

Senior Councillors

13. In addition to the Leader and the Civic Head, each local authority may have up to a maximum number of 'Senior Councillors', as detailed in ANNEX B. Individual local authorities will have the flexibility to determine which positions should be considered 'Senior Councillors' meriting higher salaries.

14. The salary of any Senior Councillors serving on Boards established by the Council, e.g. Licensing Boards, would have to be met from within the maximum total number of Senior Councillors allocated to their authority and the overall budget that authority has to meet Senior Councillors' salaries. Unlike appointments to joint boards, these posts are not in addition to the Senior Councillor allocation.

15. Similarly the salaries for Senior Councillor representatives on Regional Transport Partnerships would have to be met from the Senior Councillor allocation.

16. It is for Councils themselves to decide, within the legal restrictions, how many Senior Councillor posts they wish to allocate. The three restrictions that need to be considered when allocating Senior Councillor posts and determining salaries to be paid to Senior Councillors are:

  • The limit on the number of Senior Councillor posts that each council may have;
  • The total budget for paying Senior Councillors; and
  • That councils cannot pay any Senior Councillor more than 75% of the salary paid to the Leader

17. The maximum, with effect from 1 April 2009, which an authority could pay to a senior councillor is:

  • Senior Councillor of Local Authorities in Band A £20,294
  • Senior Councillor of Local Authorities in Band B £24,353
  • Senior Councillor of Local Authorities in Band C £28,410
  • Senior Councillor of Local Authorities in Band D £36,528.

18. It will be for Councils themselves to decide, within their own authority structures, which posts are deemed to be 'Senior Councillor' posts. Councils will also decide the level of salary to be paid to each of the senior councillors within the overall budget limit set for that purpose. Further information on how that limit is calculated and on the maximum budget available to Councils for senior councillor remuneration is provided at
ANNEX C. Senior Councillors should be paid according to the level of responsibility they hold and this may result in different councillors being paid differing levels of salary.

Police and Fire and Rescue Functions

19. In recognition of the role of Fife and Dumfries and Galloway Councils in relation to police and fire matters, it is for those Councils to determine the pay of the convener of police and/or fire committees. It must be at least £21,648 and no more than the maximum Senior Councillor's remuneration level for their respective councils. The vice convener should be paid 75 per cent of the convener's remuneration. For example a convener's salary of £21,648 would give the vice convener £16,236. Those convener and vice convener positions will be in addition to the maximum number of senior councillors allocated to these authorities.

Joint Boards

20. The Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee ( SLARC) recommended that joint boards should be able to determine the level of salaries paid to their conveners and vice conveners. Each joint board can pay remuneration to one convener and up to 2 vice conveners. Whilst that remains the Government's intention, implementation would require amendment to primary legislation. As an interim measure, the local authority of which the convener or vice convener is a member should pay the remuneration appropriate to the member's work with the joint board. For joint boards responsible for police or fire and rescue matters, that remuneration is, for Conveners, 75 per cent of the remuneration of the leader of the highest banded council represented on the joint board and, for Vice Conveners, 75 per cent of the Convener's remuneration.

21. For joint boards responsible for functions other than police or fire and rescue conveners should receive a remuneration, which, when added to their existing remuneration as a Councillor or Senior Councillor, equals 75 per cent of the Leader of a Band A council i.e. £20,294 per annum and the vice convener £19,279 per annum. The vice convener remuneration is calculated on the basis of the basic salary plus 75 per cent of the difference between the basic salary and the convener's salary.

22. Any joint board convener or vice convener who is already a Senior Councillor in his/her own authority and would receive a higher salary, should continue to be paid the higher salary. In other words, a councillor should be paid the highest level of salary to which he/she is entitled. In an instance where a councillor is already Senior Councillor in his/her own authority, he/she would already be included in the maximum number of Senior Councillors and in the budget allocated to his/her authority and should not be classed as an additional Senior Councillor.

23. The local authority in question should make administrative arrangements with the Joint Board for reimbursement of any remuneration paid by them on behalf of the Joint Board. In line with SLARC's report, the proportion of remuneration which should be met from local authority funds would be the basic salary of £16,234, or if the post holder is already a Senior Councillor, the amount the Council has determined as an appropriate Senior Councillor salary for the duties he/she is undertaking on its behalf. Any remaining balance should be recouped from the relevant Joint Board.

24. As with Dumfries and Galloway and Fife Councils, the conveners and vice conveners of joint boards normally will be in addition to the maximum number of senior councillors allocated to the authority of which they are a member. They will not be covered by the council's maximum number of senior councillors or budget for the remuneration of senior councillors, unless they are already 'Senior Councillors' in their own authority.


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