Become a councillor
Role of a councillor
As a councillor you will be an important community leader and your residents will look to you to take up issues or pursue matters they feel are important.
- This will mean dealing with a considerable amount of correspondence, sometimes during antisocial hours.
- Issues are likely to range from benefit and housing problems to planning, rubbish, parking, street cleaning, and so on, but the mix of topics varies greatly with each ward.
- You will also have responsibilities for decision making and determining policies, serving on one of the four neighbourhood committees, which bring decision making closer to the local community and deal with a range of local issues.
- You will attend Council meetings (held seven times a year) and may have particular interest there in one or more of the range of other bodies, eg the development control or licensing committees.
- As a backbench councillor you may spend between five and 20 hours a week on council work. If you are a more senior councillor you may attend considerably more.
Length of term
All London boroughs have full elections every four years. If you are elected in a by-election, you will serve until the next full election.
You do not need any formal qualifications to become a councillor. Councillors come from all walks of life.
If you are working, your employer must allow you to take a reasonable amount of time off during working hours to perform your duties as a councillor (Employment Rights Act 1996) but this does not have to be paid time off. The amount of time off will depend on your responsibilities and the effect of your absence on your employer's business. You should discuss this with your employer before making the commitment.
Allowances and expenses
Being a councillor is a voluntary service to the community. You will be paid a basic allowance as a contribution towards the time spent as a councillor, the responsibilities this brings and associated costs. You will also receive a special responsibility allowance if you take on extra roles such as being a lead member, party leader or committee chair. These allowances are taxable and may affect any other benefits being claimed. You can view the current allowance scheme in Part 6 of the Council's Constitution.
Dependents’ allowances scheme
This is to contribute towards the cost of childcare or care for dependent relatives in the household. You may claim dependents’ allowance for the cost of arranging care whilst you are attending evening meetings or other meetings associated with your role as a councillor. The maximum hourly rate is equivalent to the living wage for London.
Expenses can be claimed for any travel outside the borough required to do as part of Council duties.
Training and support
You will be offered the opportunity to discuss your individual training and support needs and be given access to the training you need to help you become fully effective in your role.
In addition to specific training programmes there is a regular series of workshops to cover topics of general interest and pick up on major changes to local government powers and responsibilities.
Support with casework and other aspects councillor work
Each of the main political parties has a group office at the Guildhall which has support staff based on the number of councillors in the group. Their role is to provide a degree of support to the party leader, lead members and other councillors with the range of meetings, casework and correspondence they carry out.
You will need some basic computer skills and have a desktop computer or laptop to a standard that can cope with the large volumes of emails and attachments you will receive from inside and outside the Council. Training can be provided on Microsoft Office as necessary and details of computer specifications and support will be provided by the IT department.
Code of Conduct
The behaviour of all councillors, as well as the co-opted and independent members appointed to the Council's committees, is covered by a code of conduct.
We have adopted a code of conduct based on a model provided by the Government and further details can be found in the Councillor Conduct, Interests and Allowances pages.