Support available to candidates and councillors
Councillors are widely supported within their role through many different methods. These include:
- dedicated support from officers including impartial advice on their area of expertise such as housing, adult social care, planning, tourism, finance and engineering projects
- communications such as bulletins and newsletters from the council
- IT assistance so councillors can receive digital communications
- mentoring and advice through political groups and through communicating with other councillors
- access to information from other organisations such as the Local Government Association
- learning and development opportunities offered in ways to support councillors, for example, at a range of times during the day or through distance learning. There will be an overall programme of learning for all councillors but also opportunities for personal training and development
- a carer’s allowance is available as part of the scheme of councillor allowances for councillors who need to provide care for a family member while they are at committee meetings and undertaking other councillor duties.
Payment of allowances
Councillors do not get paid a salary but receive an allowance in recognition of time and expenses they have incurred whilst on council business. This includes the use of your home, broadband and telephone use.
Details of the allowances payable to councillors are available in the Councillor Scheme of Allowances.
All councillors receive a basic allowance. The basic allowance for a Dorset Council councillor will be £13,000 for 2019/20.
Councillors also receive a special responsibility allowance if they take on extra roles such as being a chairman. This is to reflect the extra time and expenses they incur.
The allowances may be subject to tax implications but this depends on each councillor’s individual circumstances.
There is a high demand from residents, businesses and other organisations for councillors to use digital technology. The ability to use IT is becoming increasingly necessary to the role of a councillor. Councillors are recommended to have access to the internet at home. The council embraces digital ways of working and will work with any councillor who has difficulty accessing digital communications or using IT.
For more information candidates can
- contact the Democratic Services Team for non-political advice including information on committees, the role of councillors or to visit the council offices
- attend a committee meeting to gain an understanding of the work undertaken by the council and councillors
- speak to an existing councillor about their experiences
- contact a political group office if you wish to stand for a party
- discuss becoming a councillor with your family and employer
- discuss the main issues in your ward with community groups and with current councillors at county, district or town/parish level
- visit the Electoral Commission’s website for guidance
Candidates with a disability
The Government Equality Office provides a fund, called the EnAble Fund, to cover the additional financial costs associated with a disability or health condition, that would otherwise prevent someone from seeking elected office. This is adminstered by Disabilities Rights UK. For example, it may help if you need to pay for sign language interpreters or assistive technology. Candidates with a disability can apply for this funding by contacting Disabilities Rights UK.
Councillors with a disability
A range of support options and facilities are available for councillors with a disability. Once you become a councillor, we will work with you to overcome any barriers there may be to you being fully involved.
The council can make adjustments and offer support to accommodate a large range of disabilities, for instance, council offices have accessibility facilities such as disabled parking bays, lifts, hearing loops and microphones. Councillors can also be provided with IT equipment or programmes suitable for their needs such as text-to-speech software, so you can access reports and participate in committees. Documents and information can also be produced in different formats.
Councillors are encouraged to inform the Democratic Services Team of any disabilities that they may have and the difficulties these may cause them whilst they carry out their councillor role. The team can then investigate any potential solution or advise on any adjustments that could be made.
If you are receiving any incapacity benefit or employment and support allowance then this may not be affected by being a councillor but individual cases vary so please check this with the Department for Work and Pensions.
Guidance on being a councillor
Local Government Association
Department for Work and Pensions