The Independent Remuneration Board of the Senedd has (at its meeting on Thursday 10 December) proposed a revised package of support for Members of the Sixth Senedd (2021-26) in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The changes put forward for consultation reflect the Board’s emphasis on ensuring its decisions provide value for money and are appropriate within the context of the wider financial circumstances of Wales.
The Board is proposing to change the starting salary for Members for the Sixth Senedd to reflect this year’s pay freeze and place a cap on any annual pay changes, starting in May 2021.
The Board is also placing a cap on annual pay changes for Members’ staff as well as offering improved pension arrangements for staff. Changes are also proposed to the office costs allowance.
Chair of the Board, Dr Elizabeth Haywood said:
“There were several outstanding issues that we needed to consider to finalise the package of support for Members of the Sixth Senedd and the Board has made these proposals in light of the exceptional circumstances of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“These proposals will provide greater clarity to Members and their staff in these times of uncertainty.
“I look forward to discussing the proposals – and fostering an effective and appropriate working relationship – with Senedd Members, their support staff and other stakeholders to inform our final decisions.”
Earlier this year, the Board decided to freeze Senedd Members’ salaries in response to the exceptional economic circumstances arising from the Coronavirus pandemic. Now the Board is proposing to return to annual changes in line with changes in salaries in Wales. This would see Members receive a 2.4 per cent increase on their current frozen salary of £67,649 in 2021. If the pay freeze had not taken place, the salary due in May 2021 would have been £72,321.
Dr Elizabeth Haywood said:
“The exceptional circumstances of the Coronavirus pandemic mean the Board did not think it reasonable for Members to see their pay rise by 4.4 per cent this year while many people in Wales were furloughed or losing their jobs, and there was such uncertainty in the economy. That’s why we decided to freeze salaries this year.
“But the Board has to set an index for the whole five-year term of the Sixth Senedd, and we are proposing to return next year to linking Members’ pay to the average earnings of Welsh workers. However, to address the risk of big fluctuations from one year to the next, we think pay rises should be capped at three per cent and will be consulting on this over the coming weeks.”
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