Salaries & allowances of British mayors
Research by Andrew Stevens

ON THIS PAGE: Public service ethos ||| Salaries of metro mayors ||| Allowances of city mayors ||| Further reading |||

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Britain’s public service ethos
curbs elected mayors’ salaries

June 2018:
In the UK local politics is seen as community service rather than a professional career and this is reflected in the salaries paid to elected mayors. By contrast, senior officials in city administrations are often paid more than double the mayor’s salary. For instance, the new Metro Mayor of the Tees Valley receives a modest £35,800 per year, yet the authority’s chief executive takes home a more impressive £135,000, collecting almost £100,000 more. While mayoral and councillors’ remuneration is recommended by independent external advisers, councils are free to set their own political pay rates, though most reduce or freeze against the recommended level, mindful of local voters’ reactions.

In contrast, other political offices in the UK pay comparably more, with the basic salary for a Member of the UK Parliament (MP) set at £74,962, although (famously) they receive much more when travel and accommodation expenses are taken into account. The Head of the UK Civil Service, the Cabinet Secretary, is paid £200,000 a year, more than the Prime Minister herself on £150,000.

Local authorities in the UK have a legal duty to publish the salaries (known as allowances) paid to both elected mayors and ordinary councillors, which they post online. Allowances are set annually by the full council, acting on the advice of an external independent remuneration panel (also required by law) recruited by the council (usually consisting of retired officials and academics). The council may however disregard the rates suggested by the panel (arrived at by considering local factors, workloads and the ‘going rate’ for other posts), especially if the authority has implemented pay freezes and lay-offs for its regular workforce.

Most councils set a Basic Allowance for all members (to reimburse reasonable expenses and childcare) and an additional Special Responsibility Allowance to recognise those with additional executive responsibilities such as the Mayor and members of their Cabinet (while some councils combine both for the Mayor). The Basic Allowance is not seen as a salary and in smaller rural authorities can be quite low. Several mayors have either frozen their allowance (Doncaster) or voluntarily offered half to local charity (Torbay). Under its separate legislation, the Greater London Authority may set a one-off 'resettlement' payment for the Mayor of London on retirement or loss of office, but this facility is not available to other elected mayors in England.

There are two types of elected mayor in England (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have none). Firstly, the Mayor of London and the seven Metro Mayors of the Combined Authorities.  The second type is the elected mayors of local authorities (municipalities) in England, which have existed since 2002.  Broadly speaking, the Metro Mayors do not provide local services in the same way that local authority mayors are responsible for as heads of local authorities, but rather oversee local transport and economic development. The Mayor of Greater Manchester however also acts as both fire authority and local Police and Crime Commissioner (separately elected to elsewhere across England) and this is reflected in his salary.

Annual salaries of metro mayors
and Peterborough
James Palmer (2017)
Greater London Sadiq Khan (2016)
Greater Manchester Andy Burnham (2017)
Liverpool City Region Steve Rotherham (2017)
Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis MP (2018)
Tees Valley Ben Houchen (2017)
West of England Tim Bowles (2017)
West Midlands Andy Street (2017)

Annual allowances of city mayors
Bedford Dave Hodgson (2009)
Bristol Marvin Rees (2016)
Copeland Mike Starkie (2015)
Doncaster Ros Jones (2013)
Hackney Philip Glanville (2016)
Leicester Sir Peter Soulsby (2011)
Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock (2002)
Liverpool Joe Anderson (2012)
Mansfield Kate Allsop (2015)
Middlesbrough Dave Budd (2015)
Newham Sir Robin Wales (2002)
North Tyneside Norma Redfearn (2013)
Salford Paul Dennett (2016)
Torbay Gordon Oliver (2011)
Tower Hamlets John Biggs (2015)
Watford Dorothy Thornhill (2002)
Sources: Members Allowance Schemes on respective local authority websites

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Recommended further reading
Salaries of German mayors
Salaries of Japanese mayors
British mayors 2017
UK local government