Councillors of Gwent disappointed in IRPW for not freezing their salaries

BLAENAU Gwent councillors are “disappointed” that the Independent Remuneration Panel of Wales (IRPW), has not listened to them and frozen their salary for the next financial year.

At a meeting of the Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council’s Democratic Services committee, on Monday, March 27, councillors discussed the IRPW’s decision before it goes to a full council meeting on Thursday, March 31.

The report explains that the IRPW met in February and confirmed that the basic salary will go up by 4.76 per cent, which equates to £800 for the 2023/24 financial year.

This will take councillors basic pay up to £17,600.

Increases would also be made to the salary of the leader, deputy leader and cabinet members on top of the basic rise.

This is to reflect the levels of extra responsibility they have.

The reason the IRPW try and set a fair salary is in the hope that councillors can be found from all backgrounds including those who may also work full time.

An eight-week consultation on the draft proposals took place last year from October 6 to December 1.

In 2022 the IRPW decided to give councillors all over Wales a £2,432 rise after they reinstated the link between councillors’ salary and the Annual Survey of Hourly Earnings (ASHE), which is published by the Office of National Statistics. (ONS).

The council’s head of organisational development Andrea Prosser told the committee that this year had been seen by the IRPW one for “consolidation” which allows the decision from last year to “bed in.”

Ms Prosser said that the IRPW would “continue to develop” research and evidence that would form the basis to inform future decisions and longer term planning.

Cabinet member for regeneration, Cllr John C Morgan said: “It’s disappointing that the IRPW has continued with its original stance.

“We had the consultation a couple of months ago and we responded by saying that we wanted to freeze any uplift because of the current financial climate.

“They just pressed ahead.”

He pointed out that the IRPW is an independent body that sets pay rates for all local authorities in Wales.

“It seems we are bound to implement the decision,” said Cllr Morgan.

Cllr Lee Parsons said: “We as a council, Independent and Labour group all agreed we wouldn’t accept this rise.

“It’s wrong when you see people struggling.”

Committee chairwoman, Cllr Joanna Watkins said: “We’ll take it to council on Thursday and have further discussion if required.”

Councillors noted the report.

The salary changes to leader, deputy leader and cabinet member and committee chairman/chairwoman proposed by the IRPW are:

Leader – £56,100 up from £53,550.

Deputy leader – £39,2750 up from £37,485.

Cabinet members – £33,660 up from £32,130.

Committee chairman/chairwoman – £26,400 up from £25,593.

Leader of the largest opposition group – £26,400 up from £25,593.

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