New report says Councillors should get pay rise

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SCOTLAND’S councillors should receive a pay rise that reflects their workloads, according to Government advisors.

A new report by the Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee said Councillors basic salary of £16,234 doesn’t reflect increases in workloads since bigger multi-member wards were introduced in Scotland in 2007 and has recommended an increase of 16.5% to £18,916.

The recommendation to “recognise the significant responsibilities of leaders and senior councillors” would see Glasgow and Edinburgh council leaders each receive £63,000, up from about £52,000, with the heads of smaller authorities earning at least £44,000.

And the report suggested savings could be made to offset the cost of an increase, which could see the remuneration budget grow by almost a quarter or £5.5 million, by stopping salaries for elected members who have been suspended and ditching additional salary payments to councillors for serving on arm’s-length external organisations (Aleos), joint boards and community justice authorities.

The Committee urged the Government to “act sooner” on the recommendation to scrap Aleo (‘arm’s length organisations’) salaries in Glasgow, where members of the Labour run administration are awarded top-up salaries of up to £20,000 a year for sitting on such bodies.  Glasgow is the only council in Scotland to pay councillors for sitting on such bodies.

The report states: “Despite meeting with Glasgow City Council on two occasions and corresponding with them we have been given no justifiable reason why councillors should receive an enhanced salary solely for serving as directors on the board of an Aleo and we cannot support continuation of this practice.”

Ian Livingstone, the committee chairman, said: “We have had to look at councillors’ remuneration against an economic backcloth that has changed beyond recognition.  We are suggesting the Government should consider our recommendations on pay alongside those of the Commission Report on Public Service Delivery to see if some of these recommendations could be self-financing.”

“There are areas where we believe the Government should act sooner, namely remuneration to councillors serving on Aleos, councillors serving on joint boards and community justice authorities and councillors who are suspended from their duties.”

Tory MSP and local government spokesman 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 that reduce the cost of local politics.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We will carefully consider all of the recommendations as it moves forward on these issues.  Of course, that will be in the context of the financial constraints we face across the public sector in Scotland as a result of substantial cuts in our budget from Westminster.”