Councillor calls for more support for failed election candidates
Richard Evans, local democracy reporter
Councillors should think carefully before quitting their day jobs and not rely on council allowances, says an anonymous councillor who believes there should be more support for failed election candidates.
The concerned councillor says they have seen too many new councillors quit their day jobs so they can focus their time serving the council, only to find themselves unemployed after the election.
Before the election, the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales advised Conwy councillors should get a collective £146,000 pay rise- with the leader alone pocketing £6,700 extra a year.
After the council agreed this sum, a basic councillor salary is now £16,800 a year, rising to £56,700 for the leader. The deputy leader earns £39,690 whilst cabinet members will each get £34,020.
But the local democracy reporting service interviewed one councillor, who asked not to be named, who said little thought was given to former councillors who lost their local election.
“Politics is cruel. One day you are a paid-up member of the council with an allowance – the next day you’ve got nothing. If you are financially relying on that, it is tough,” they said.
“I think people would have something to say if their council tax was higher to help fund a councillor support service, but the council need to prepare councillors for not being re-elected, both mentally and financially. When I left my old job and I decided to leave, they gave me a seminar, advising me.
“There needs to be some sort of programme or acknowledgement that says ‘if you are not elected, you need to have a plan’. I’m seeing new councillors now giving up their jobs and handing in their notice because they are going to concentrate on the council.
“I’m in the process of reducing my hours for my job, but I won’t leave that job because you never know. You should take this job as a temporary contract, and if you’re any good, your contract will be renewed.
“But unfortunately what happens nationally, if you are in a political group, will affect you. You might be one of the best councillors going, but if people aren’t happy with the political party, you could lose your job.”
A spokeswoman for Conwy County Council commented: “A re-elected councillor can access the Care First Counselling Service in terms of welfare support and financial advice, but the council doesn’t provide financial support for any loss of earnings.
“For those former councillors who weren’t re-elected they don’t have access to the counselling service, but they may be able to access something similar through the political party they stood for.”
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