Early data analysis reveals broad variation in councillor support

An Inspectorate project reviewing support provided to elected councillors is building a picture of the varied approaches to allowances and reimbursements for councillor expenses across the state.

After two surveys of council governance staff and councillors, the Inspectorate has been analysing the data to identify any patterns with the management of expenses and allowances, variations between regional and metro councils and other areas of interest.

While many councils deal with councillor work-related expenses differently, all provide support for items such as information technology, travel costs, training and childcare.

In the first survey, the Inspectorate received responses from governance staff at 76 out of Victoria’s 79 councils. There were 234 responses from councillors and mayors, representing nearly 40% of councillors contacted.

Some of the findings to date include:

  • average spend by councils on councillor expenses for 2016/17 was approximately $81,000, however there were broad variations in the dollar value of claims
  • eight councils supplied at least one of their councillors with a fax machine and 46 councils supplied a printer for home use
  • 94% of councils supplied councillors with a mobile phone and 76% provided them with an iPad or tablet

Reporting inconsistencies for expense categories across councils created difficulties when comparing or aggregating some councillor support data.

A final report on the findings, which will identify opportunities to improve practices or processes, is expected to be published in early 2020.