Council confirms plans for community fund supported by politicians unwanted pay rise
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
A meeting is set to take place next month to organise setting up a fund to receive wages that Blaenau Gwent Councillors wish to give up.
In February, the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) decided that the annual basic salary for all county councillors in Wales will go up from £14,368 to £16,800.
Councils have no choice but to pay the salary, but councillors can write to the head of finance at their local authority to say if they want to “forego” part of their wages.
In meetings earlier this year Blaenau Gwent councillors were unhappy that they were being forced to receive a wage increase, due to the cost-of-living crisis that is causing pain to many county residents.
Itching to sign up
Presiding councillor, Cllr Chris Smith said: “I’ve had some enquiries about the fund we’re going to set up, I think there are people itching to sign up to it.”
Confirming the fund is expected to launch by the middle of July, Mr Smith added: “Hopefully, it’s going to be something at all 33 members can take part in.”
Cllr Smith said “this time next year” the fund could be handing money out to worthy causes in the county.
“I’m adamant that the money stays in Blaenau Gwent,” stressed Cllr Smith.
The IRPW report states that council leaders should receive a salary “at or above” a back bench member of Senedd Cymru/Welsh Parliament and being in the cabinet/executive should be seen as a “full time job.”
The council leader will receive £53,550 a year rising from £44,921.
The deputy leader will receive £37,485 rising from £31,783.
Councillors on the cabinet/executive would receive £32,130 which is up from £27,741.
Other senior roles such as committee chairmen or women, leader of the opposition and other group leaders would stay at this year’s level, but with the post holder receiving the basic rise.
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