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Agenda Item No. 6

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Democratic Services Committee: 13th April, 2016

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) Annual Report 2016/17

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To apprise Members of the IRPW Annual Report 2016/17.
  2. To facilitate consideration of the discretionary provisions introduced by the IRPW to "provide greater opportunities for flexibility at local level to reflect the variations on governance structures of Principal Councils".

Recommendation

THAT the Committee consider the IRPW Annual Report 2016/17 and any comments be incorporated in a report to Council on 27th April, 2016.

Reason for the Recommendation

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

Background

  1. The Council's Members' Allowances Scheme currently reflects the fact that the Council has resolved to abide by the determinations of the IRPW as set out in its Annual Report each year. As such, there is 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, does incorporate changes to the IRPW framework which it is stated "provide greater opportunities for flexibility at local level to reflect the variations in governance structures of Principal Councils". Further details are set out below and, given the flexibility which the IRPW has introduced, specific consideration is required to be given as to whether the Council wishes to vary the relevant payments or maintain the status quo.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The full list of the IRPW's determinations for 2016/17 are as set out in Appendix A. The full report can be viewed at http://gov.wales/irpwsub/home/publication/2016-17/irp-annual-report-2016-17/?skip=1&lang=en .
  2. The IRPW is, in effect, introducing two salary levels for Executive Members (except Leaders and Deputy Leaders) and for Committee Chairmen. This is designed to allow Councils to take account of any differences in the responsibilities that they consider may be attached to specific posts. The IRPW state 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 has responded to those concerns in that the revised arrangements leave it to the discretion of each Council which salary level is paid according to local circumstances. Nevertheless, the IRPW is of the view that, in many instances, there are indeed differences in the responsibilities attached to portfolios of Executive Members, which, in turn, it is suggested should be reflected in the level of salary paid. The IRPW is of the view that the same principle also applies to Committee Chairmen.
  3. 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 has given further consideration to this aspect and the final report provides for individual Local Authorities to decide which of two bands of Senior Salary it wishes to pay to each individual Cabinet Member. The Vale of Glamorgan Council falls within Group B as far as IRPW Council sizes are concerned. As such, Cabinet Member Senior Salaries can be

                Level 1 - £29,000

                Level 2 - £26,100

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

                Level 1 - £22,000

                Level 2 - £20,000.

 

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

  1. At the Committee on 21st October, 2016, Members were reminded that the Council's current Members' Allowances Scheme incorporates 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, 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.
  2. 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."

  1. It can be seen, however, that the IRPW has retained the discretionary provisions of two levels of Senior Salary for both Executive Members and Committee Chairmen.
  2. 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) do not appear in the final report.
  3. 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.
  4. In light of the above, Members are asked to consider whether they feel 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.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Minor variances to the overall cost of the Council's Members' Allowances Scheme would arise if any variation of salaries was approved.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no direct implications arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. In developing the new Corporate Plan, the Council has considered the values that are needed to underpin the work of elected Members and staff.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. The final decision on Members' Allowances is a matter for Full Council.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. This is an internal matter and consultation is, therefore, not necessary.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales' Annual Report 2016/17.

Report to Democratic Services Committee: 21st October, 2015.

Contact Officer

Jeff Wyatt, Head of Democratic Services - tel: 01446 709408.

Officers Consulted

Head of Legal Services

Head of Finance

Head of Democratic Services

Responsible Officer:

Rob Thomas, Managing Director

 

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