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Agenda Item No. 10

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

COUNCIL: 27TH APRIL, 2016

 

REFERENCE FROM DEMOCRATIC SERVICES COMMITTEE: 13TH APRIL, 2016

 

 

“           INDEPENDENT REMUNERATION PANEL FOR WALES (IRPW) ANNUAL REPORT 2016/17 (MD) -

 

The Council's Members' Allowances Scheme currently reflected the fact that the Council had resolved to abide by the determinations of the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) as set out in its Annual Report each year.  As such, there was generally no need to present a specific report to Members.  However, the Annual Report for 2016/17, whilst not proposing any increases in the basic or senior salaries, incorporated changes to the IRPW framework which it was stated "provide greater opportunities for flexibility at local level to reflect the variations in governance structures of Principal Councils".  Further details were set out below and, given the flexibility which the IRPW had introduced, specific consideration was required to be given as to whether the Council wished to vary the relevant payments or maintain the status quo.

 

The full list of the IRPW's determinations for 2016/17 were as set out in Appendix A to the report.  The full report could be viewed at http://gov.wales/irpwsub/home/publication/2016-17/irp-annual-report-2016-17/?skip=1&lang=en .

 

The IRPW was, in effect, introducing two salary levels for Executive Members (except Leaders and Deputy Leaders) and for Committee Chairmen.  This was designed to allow Councils to take account of any differences in the responsibilities that they consider might be attached to specific posts.  The IRPW stated that, having considered the responses to its draft report in which a number of Executive posts were prescribed to be paid at the higher level, the IRPW had responded to those concerns in that the revised arrangements left it to the discretion of each Council as to which salary level was paid according to local circumstances.  Nevertheless, the IRPW was of the view that, in many instances, there were indeed differences in the responsibilities attached to portfolios of Executive Members, which, in turn, it was suggested should be reflected in the level of salary paid.  The IRPW was of the view that the same principle also applied to Committee Chairmen.

 

The draft Annual Report was considered by the Democratic Services Committee on 21st October, 2015.  At that time, as far as Cabinet positions were concerned, if an Authority had a Cabinet of more than six Members (including the Leader), the IRPW was proposing that additional Cabinet  Members would only be entitled to a salary of 10% less than the other six Cabinet Members.  Since that time the IRPW had given further consideration to this aspect and the final report provided for individual Local Authorities to decide which of two bands of Senior Salary it wished to pay to each individual Cabinet Member.  The Vale of Glamorgan Council fell within Group B as far as IRPW Council sizes were concerned.  As such, Cabinet Member Senior Salaries could be

 

            Level 1 - £29,000

            Level 2 - £26,100.

 

As far as Chairmen of Committees were concerned, the IRPW continued to  take the view that the specific responsibility and workload of some Committee Chairmen was greater than others and, therefore, was introducing two levels of remuneration, viz.:

 

            Level 1 – £22,000

            Level 2 – £20,000.

 

It was for individual Authorities to decide which of its Chairmen (if remunerated) should receive a Level 1 or Level 2 payment.   

 

At the Committee on 21st October, 2016, Members were reminded that the Council’s current Members’ Allowances Scheme incorporated a total of 16 Senior Salaries, compared to the maximum of 18 which it is entitled to allocate.  The Committee also noted that the draft IRPW report referred in a number of instances to the importance/ value of the Scrutiny function.  As such, at that meeting, the Head of Democratic Service indicated he considered that it would be inappropriate to pay a lower salary to Chairmen of the five Scrutiny Committees.  That left the Planning and Licensing Committees as currently allocated a Senior Salary for the Chairmen and, again, his view was that the quasi-judicial nature of both Committees justified the payment of the existing / higher salary. 

 

At the above meeting, Members expressed concern that an independent Panel’s draft Annual Report was accompanied by (and potentially influenced by) a letter from the relevant Minister.  This was considered by the Committee to be somewhat “political” and to potentially risk compromising the independence of the Panel.  Members also expressed concern that, in proposing two differing levels of payment for Committee Chairmen, the Panel was reintroducing the concept of options for Local Authorities, as opposed to providing firm determinations. 

 

It was resolved –

 

(1)       T H A T the Committee’s concern regarding the involvement of the Minister in the process and the potential for possible compromising of the independence of the Panel be conveyed to the Welsh Government.

 

(2)       T H A T the Welsh Government also be informed of the Committee’s view that it would be desirable to remove the option of two different levels of payment for Committee Chairmen and to replace it with a firm determination."

 

In addition to the Democratic Services Committee, the Leader also responded to the draft IRPW report, expressing certain concerns and concurring with the Committee's views.  Members are asked to note that certain of the draft proposals commented on by the Leader (i.e. in relation to proposed reductions in the Senior Salary for the Deputy Leader and the Leader of the largest opposition Group) did not appear in the final report.  It could be seen, however, that the IRPW had retained the discretionary provisions of two levels of Senior Salary for both Executive Members and Committee Chairmen.

 

At a meeting of the all-Wales Member Support Network held on 5th April, 2016, attendees were asked what approach their respective Local Authorities were likely to be taking regarding the two different levels of Senior Salary provided for by the IRPW.  All present indicated either that their Democratic Services Committees had recommended (or were likely to recommend) to Full Council that the status quo should prevail or that a report was likely to be submitted to Full Council direct recommending such.

 

In light of the above, Members were asked to consider whether they felt there should be any distinction between the salaries paid to individual Cabinet Members or to Committee Chairmen or whether the previous stance taken should be reiterated and no changes be recommended to Full Council.

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the previous view of the Committee that it would have been  desirable for the IRPW to remove the option of two different levels of payment for Committee Chairmen and to replace it with a firm determination be reiterated.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee recommends to Full Council on 27th April that no changes to the current levels of Senior Salaries to Cabinet Members or Scrutiny Committee Chairmen be made.

 

Reason for decisions

 

To inform discussion at Full Council and the subsequent Members’ Allowances Scheme for 2016/17.”

 

 

[Appendix A]