In the United Kingdom, all local authorities are overseen by elected councillors.
Councillors are typically elected as members of political parties or alternatively as independents. Once elected they are meant to represent all their constituents and not just those who voted for them. They are bound by a code of conduct enforced by standards boards. The 2007 Local Elections in the UK saw the age limit for councillors fall to 18, leading to younger people standing.
Councillors also play a wider role in providing community leadership. Enabling communities to help themselves and providing a vital link between the local authority and the communities which they serve. Non executive councillors now have more time to focus on improving the communities which they serve, and play more of a role in developing policy and recommending to the Executive, decisions to be made and holding them to account publicly for their decisions, through the scrutiny process, which provides a platform for real issues which affect communities. Issues which can be raised by fellow councillors and members of the public alike, and for in depth work to be carried out into those issues. A councillor’s role is now one of influence rather than that of power, influencing the decision makers and holding them to account as well as influencing the key stakeholders within their wards. Councillors have a mandate now to lead and identify opportunities for change in a wide range of subjects which affect the communities in which we live, to identify skills and resources within communities and to bring them together for the greater good, this, along with greater emphasis in local government over partnership working with health, police and fire authorities.
The desire for clearer roles and raised standards has been accompanied by an increase in councillor training and development by organisations such as the Improvement and Development Agency, The Local Government Information Unit LGIU and the Local Government Association.
Most councillors are not full time professionals, although most councils do pay them a basic allowance and out-of-pocket expenses. In addition special responsibility allowances are paid to councillors who carry out more senior roles. The basic allowance (and special responsibility allowance) are theoretically paid to compensate councillors for the time spent on council duties. Parish, town or community councillors may, since the Local Government Act 2000, be paid for their services, but most are not.
In Scotland since 2007 councillors have received a salary of £15k as opposed to a series of allowances. These are often topped up by special responsibility allowances.
In particular, the title is used in the following cases.