Agenda item

Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) - Draft Annual Report 2021/22


The circulated report set out the proposed changes in the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) Draft Annual Report 2021/22; it was confirmed that the report was currently out for consultation and would be closed on 23 November 2020.

The three proposed changes were listed as the following:

1. The IRPW propose that the basic salary for elected members of principal councils be increased by £150 per annum, effective 1st April 2021. Senior salaries will be increased at the same rate (1.06%) as basic salaries.

2. The IRPW propose the replacing of the £403 monthly cap for the reimbursement of costs of care with the following arrangements:
i. all relevant authorities must provide for the reimbursement of the contribution towards necessary costs for the care of dependent children and adults (provided by informal or informal carers) and for personal assistance needs as follows:
ii. Formal (registered with Care Inspectorate for Wales) care costs to be reimbursed in full
iii. Informal (unregistered) care costs to be reimbursed up to a maximum rate equivalent to the Real Living Wage at the time the costs are incurred

3. The IRPW propose the fees paid for co-opted members (with voting rights) increase by £12.00.

It was noted that on 21 October 2020, Caryn Furlow-Harris (Strategic Manager for Policy and Democratic Services) and the Chair of Democratic Services Committee attended a meeting facilitated by the IRPW where the draft report was discussed; they were joined by colleagues from other Councils in Wales including Bridgend Council, Swansea Council and Ceredigion Council. It was highlighted that the majority of the debate centred on the change to the £403 monthly cap; the Chair of Democratic Services Committee had provided the IRPW with a number of different scenarios in which they said they would be considering before finalising the final report which was set to be issued in April 2021.

A discussion took place in relation to the percentage of increase the IRPW had proposed to the salary for Members. It was noted that there was 10 years of austerity where Members signalled to IRPW that they didn’t want to be seeing large increases to Members remuneration during that period; there were wage restraints and other similar measures being deployed more widely across the public sector, however more recently that had changed and there had been increases in salaries for teaching staff, local government workers, civil servants, MPs etc. Officers highlighted that they were surprised that the IRPW weren’t taking up the opportunity in the report to begin to address the considerable gap that’s now developed between the bench mark rate and what Members were actually being paid; the Head of Democratic Services, Karen Jones, would be raising these points formally to IRPW.

In relation to the the two tier arrangement around the costs of care, Officers weren’t satisfied that the IRPW had given a suitable explanation of the reasoning behind a two tier arrangement and were not really getting at the reasons why Members weren’t claiming what they were entitled to; Officers confirmed that they would like to see more information from the IRPW before the arrangements were finalised.

Members stated that there should be a fairer mechanism in place for pay rises/allowances as currently those who were eligible for senior salaries were receiving a considerable amount more than those who were on basic salaries due to the increases being calculated by percentages. Officers mentioned that around 2 years ago, IRPW were looking to a develop a different model for remuneration as they had accepted the current model was no longer fit for purpose; since the model was introduced, there had been many developments for example, Joint Scrutiny Committees, and as local government reform moves forward there will be a lot more collaborative working which enlists a new set of duties, responsibilities and commitment from Members. It was confirmed that when the Head of Democratic Services liaised with IRPW in relation to the concerns, the point about the increases not reflecting the amount of work and responsibilities Members were taking on would be raised. It was suggested that IRPW could hold a consultation period in the first instance, with a discussion around what the model should look like in the future.

The Committee discussed the importance of equality and ensuring that everyone had the opportunity to put themselves forward as a candidate to become an Elected Member; the allowances helped some people to be able to do this e.g. those who would need to pay for childcare. It was highlighted that there shouldn’t be any stigma from the media or on social media platforms in relation to Members claiming the allowances that they were entitled to; there were also still issues around the public perception of what Elected Members get paid. It was asked if the Council could communicate or include any information around this matter as it was previously poorly managed which had an effect on those in local government and resulted in some of them not claiming their money.   

In regards to Members care allowance, it was noted that Members were still reluctant to claim the allowances despite the work that had been completed across Wales and the encouragement that the Council had provided; it was also evident with travel allowances as well, as very few Members claimed for travel unless they were incurring substantial costs due to the long distance travels from the Civic Centres. It was highlighted that there was a cultural problem with the way in which the public perceives these payments; the Council had to be prepared to stand behind Members and encourage them to claim the entitlements. It was confirmed that the Head of Democratic Services would write a response to IRPW in regards to the concerns raised by Members and provide a copy to the Democratic Services Committee Members. It was added that there was also scope for individual members and/or political groups to make representations to the panel as well; it was asked if the link to be able to do this be circulated to Members.


1. That Members note the draft Annual Report and proposed determinations for 2021/22.


2. That Members agree to make a brief response to the consultation and that the Head of Democratic Services prepare the Council’s response on behalf of the Committee including:

(i) Requesting clarity and transparency in terms of the details to help to assist /support members

(ii) Relaying Members concerns/comments in relation to the percentage increase to IRPW








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