Thursday, March 10, 2011

New report recommends increase in Councillors pay; flawed report will see some people lose out 50% pay cut; £30,000 is the right level for the job

Dear All

The old saying is 'you get what you pay for'.

And when it comes to Councillors, we pay them a basic salary of £16,234, less than the national average wage.

Unsurprisingly the public get a part time service for effectively what is part time pay.

Some Councillors do work full time in the position but others do not.

Is the public well served?

I would say not.

Now a report for the Scottish Government has recommended that Councillors should be paid more reflect their increased workload.

The Councillor is generally the first port of call when a citizen has problems with the Council.

Their job is to fight against the people who are denying you, your rights.

That is a full time job as some cases are quite complex.

In 2007, we saw the larger multi-member wards introduced that lead to significant changes in the amount of work councillors needed to do.

To some extent a Councillor is a mini MSP/MP.

The report recommends an increase of 16.5% to £18,916.

It may seem a big increase but £18,916 isn’t a lot for someone working in a professional capacity.

The report also says Glasgow and Edinburgh council leaders would receive £63,000, but leaders of other smaller authorities would earn at least £44,000.

And also the number of senior Councillors on Scotland's largest council, Glasgow City Council increase from 24 to 30.

This is to even out Glasgow with Edinburgh.

A controversial aspect of the report says that elected members should be banned from being paid extra for sitting on the boards of arms-length organisations.

I cannot see that going down too well, as effectively some people would be having a 50% plus pay cut.

But not Labour Councillor of shame William O’Rourke has he was recently ‘sacked’ from several Aleos boards.

Councillors should be on a straight basic salary of £30,000 which is approximately 50% of an MSP salary.

One thing we have found is trying to go local government on the cheap doesn’t work.

If a Councillor cannot make ends meet then they will simply take other work outside in the private or public sector.

Tory Councillor David Meikle, of Glasgow City Council, welcomed the report, saying:

"People in Glasgow demand a high level of activity from their councillor but it is only right that councillors receive a proper salary to allow them to do this and which takes into account the growing responsibilities councillors have. At the moment many councillors find it difficult to cope on the basic salary because being a councillor is a full-time job in Glasgow, so it is difficult to supplement your income with a part-time job because of the workload and responsibilities which come with being a councillor. By increasing the basic salary we will also attract more people to stand for the council who are put off by the current basic salary."

Scottish Conservative MSP Derek Brownlee said:

"Now is the wrong time to increase the cost of politics. If councillors want an increase in their pay they should first look at reducing councillor numbers or other measures which reduce the cost of local politics."

Perhaps Derek Brownlee will support a call for MPs and MSPs to have their pay reduced to the same level as a Councillor?

Brownlee says:

“Now is the wrong time to increase the cost of politics.”

By default we should be able to count on his support to reduce MSP salaries to £16,234.

However, I don’t hold out any hope since this would affect him personally.

I have always thought Councillors should be on £30,000 a year and be full time.

Labour Councillor Stephen Curran gets £16,234 per annum as a Glasgow City Councillor plus £20,294 per annum as Convenor of Strathclyde Police Authority.

Total £36, 528.

His future salary would be £18,916, a drop of £17,612.

Someone should be doing a rewrite or rather than enhancing democracy we will have a situation that it will suffer.

People have to provide for their kids.

And £30,000 isn’t unreasonable given the nature and scope of the work involved and this isn't a 9 to 5 job.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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