A HUSBAND and wife council team have defended receiving more than £90,000 a year in allowances.

Neil Stock and Sarah Candy pick up the bumper sum in their roles at Essex County Council, Tendring Council and North East Essex NHS primary care trust They also run a haberdashery business from their home in Little Bromley.

Mr Stock said the amount of hours they put in meant the recompense might not even equate to the minimum wage.

Mrs Candy earned more than £46,000 as cabinet member for children’s services at Essex County Council last year.

She picked up an additional £15,500 for her position as cabinet member for planning at Tendring Council, as well as more than £5,000 for being a non-executive director at North East Essex primary care trust.

Mr Stock receives more than £25,000 for his role as leader of Tendring Council.

Mr Stock said: “Everything we earn from our elected positions is in the public domain, so we have nothing to hide.

“We are both incredibly busy people who do an incredible amount of work “It might not even equate to the minimum wage, the number of hours we put in.”

Mr Stock said there needed to be a national debate over whether councillors needed to become full-time professionals because of the workload, which he blamed on the Labour government, for introducing cabinet-style local government.

He continued: “When Sarah was elected to Essex County Council, nine years ago, she genuinely didn’t have any idea that she would get paid a penny.

“The money has gone up and up and up, because the responsibility and workload of councillors has gone up.

“When Sarah was in charge of finance at Essex County Council she was in charge of a budget of £2.4billion.

“When you concider she has three jobs at executive decision-making level, not just a backbencher, it does stack up to a lot of money.”

Mr Stock added his allowance at Tendring Council had been cut from £25,000 to £21,000 this year, although he said there had been an increase in the Essex County Council allowance.

He added he would welcome moves for councillors to have less responsibility.

He said: “I was elected as a councillor to help residents, not be a professional full-time bureaucrat.

“I would welcome a move back to the old-fashioned role of councillors who are less hands-on. ”

Mrs Candy said what she got paid as a councillor was recommended by an independent remuneration panel.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, criticised Mrs Candy for having two cabinet jobs at different councils.

He said: “This is a remarkably large amount for anyone to rake in from the taxpayer, particularly if it’s councillors doing it.

“It simply isn’t acceptable for anyone to be taking taxpayers’ money for multiple jobs like this.

“The large salaries handed to cabinet members are meant to be because it’s a full-time job.

“If that’s so, no one should hold two and if they aren’t full-time roles then the salaries should be lower.”