RECOMMENDATIONS for a 6 per cent pay increase could encourage more younger people to join Wrexham Council, it was discussed today (Thursday, November 16).
Each year the council receive a draft report from the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) and this year the IRPW is proposing an increase to the basic allowance for elective members (6.06%).
This would see an increase of more than £1,000 a year from £17,600 to £18,666 in a basic salary.
The council leader role salary could rise from £59,400 to £62,988, while the deputy leader salary would increase from £41,580 to £44,099.
Executive board members could see their annual salaries rise from £35,640 to £37,799.
The leader of the largest opposition party would see their salary increase from £26,400 to £27,999 while chairs of committees would see their salaries increase to the same figure.
The Mayor of Wrexham’s salary would also increase from £26,400 to £27,999, along with an increase in the deputy mayor’s salary from £21,340 to £22,406.
In a report to today’s Democratic Services Committee, councillors considered the situation regarding public sector finances and the impact on budgets and recognised the “heightened economic and fiscal strain” on principal councils. The average earnings of constituents were also considered.
It’s proposed on the basis that the role of a councillor is equivalent to that of an average constituent working full-time three days a week.
It looks to maintain a “fair and reasonable package” to support elective members and that it “shouldn’t act as a barrier to participation”.
A questionnaire was also provided and councillors have until December 8 to complete it.
On the proposal, Cllr Trevor Bates for Dyffryn Ceiriog agreed with the recommendations put to them, and said that there needed to be “adequate remuneration and some kind of incentive for younger people” to become a councillor, which needs representation from a “cross-section of the community”.
Cllr Claire Lovett for New Broughton agreed, saying there needs to be a “fair and living wage”, however, highlighted she was conscious of the “cost of living side of things” for constituents.
Cllr Malcolm King for Wynnstay also pointed out that if councillors don’t want to take the pay raise, they can donate it to charity.
He added: “I think what they are doing is essential to maintain a part of our democracy.”
The first question put to the committee was if they thought the panel struck the right balance between affordability and adequate remuneration for representatives. All councillors at the meeting agreed.
The second question referred to flexibility for payments to co-opted individuals, which comes from evidence that it would be more cost-effective and fairer to provide for flexibility in paying those who are co-opted to serve on committees.
It has been proposed that there should be local flexibility for the relevant officer to decide when it will be appropriate to apply a day or half-day rate or to use an hourly rate where it is sensible to aggregate a few short meetings. All councillors again were in favour.
The third question looks into encouraging more sustainable travel. In Wales, councils can still hold hybrid meetings and all members attend via video link. In England, councils have reverted to only in-person meetings, though there are no plans for this in Wales.
The fourth question asks about councillors being aware of their entitlements which include remuneration, pension scheme, reimbursement of expenses, reimbursement for caring responsibilities, and family absence payments.
The next question that applied to the council was the publication of consolidated sums for other bodies. These figures are currently published as individual details, but the new proposal looks at publishing a global figure instead, to reduce the stigma of claiming. The committee agreed with this.
The proposal would be in place from February 2024.