Councillors have awarded themselves a pay rise and better parental leave conditions in a bid to ensure their roles remain open to people from diverse backgrounds.

The two per cent increase in councillors’ basic allowances – the minimum councillors receive to cover the costs of their duties – was approved at a meeting of Haringey’s full council yesterday (Monday, March 18).

It means the minimum amount paid to the borough’s councillors will go up from £10,810 to £11,026 per year from April 1.

The basic allowance is designed to cover expenses such as the cost of travelling to meetings and other events that form part of councillors’ day-to-day duties.

On top of this, councillors will be allowed to take 52 weeks of parental leave while continuing to receive their allowances.

The council’s standards committee hopes better pay and conditions will ensure the roles remain attractive positions for people from different backgrounds – including less well-off members of society.

But while the basic allowance will remain below the amount recommended by an independent pay panel, the Liberal Democrats opposed the increase.

Luke Cawley-Harrison, Lib Dem member for Crouch End, said members should not be able to vote on their own pay and called on the council to wait for the findings of an independent review of allowances later this year.

Cllr Cawley-Harrison called on councillors to “stop this council using our residents’ money in a year when they have to dig even deeper in their pockets – and have the prospect of more economic decline due to Brexit – to fund even more allowances for the very people elected to protect and represent them”.

Labour members voted against the Lib Dem proposals but backed an amendment by Labour chief whip Cllr Gideon Bull to halt the creation of two assistant cabinet member posts, which would have come at a cost of £6,700 each.

Cllr Seema Chandwani, Labour member for West Green, backed the removal of the extra cabinet roles until a full review of the positions has taken place.

Cllr Chandwani defended the rise in allowances and parental leave, saying: “If we are serious about involving working-class people – especially working-class women – in politics, then we must ensure remuneration.

“If not, only those that can afford to will be in a position of responsibility in politics – and for me, that promotes elitism.”