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Senedd Commission in dispute with union over cost-of-living payment

27 Oct 2023 3 minute read
The Senedd building

Chris Haines, ICNN Senedd reporter

A £1,500 cost-of-living payment for Senedd staff is insufficient to end a dispute with a trade union, a report has revealed.

The Senedd Commission – which runs the Welsh Parliament’s estate and provides support for MSs – remains in dispute with the PCS Union.

A finance committee scrutiny report published on Friday October 20 warned that the pay award has led to significant in-year reductions to the commission’s budget.

Cost-of-living

Appearing before the committee earlier this month, Ken Skates, the Senedd commissioner for budgets, provided details of the cost-of-living payment for staff.

He said two payments, totalling £1,500, would be made for each staff member below director level in October and February, which will cost the commission £825,000. 

Mr Skates told MSs the impact would be “felt right across the organisation” with savings having to be found elsewhere and a targeted recruitment freeze in place.

He stressed that key priorities including Senedd reform have been protected but said the commission has scaled back spending on training, events, travel and other areas.

A further £315,000 worth of savings are yet to be identified in the 2024/25 draft budget.

Ongoing dispute

Jayne Smith wrote to the committee on behalf of the PCS Union on October 11, raising concerns that next year’s draft budget risks underfunding the institution.

She said: “This will lead to in-year difficulties for the commission in terms of recruitment, projects, other types of expenditure and maintaining service levels for members. The agreement reached so far has resulted in the pausing of action but is not sufficient to end the dispute.”

The industrial officer added: “PCS has long been ready to negotiate a settlement that would mitigate the real-terms decrease in the pay of commission staff and bring the ongoing dispute to an end.”

The PCS Union has called for a £3,000 payment next year.

Mr Skates said this would amount to 4% of the commission’s operating budget before ring-fenced funding for specific programmes.

“At the level that’s been requested, the cost would be way in excess of £1 million, which we simply wouldn’t be able to find,” he said.

“And so we’d be in a position where we would have to request a supplementary budget.”

Survey

A commission survey found staff well-being compared favourably with 70% feeling fairly paid against an industry average of 66%.

However, one respondent said: “The lack of action by senior management to increase pay in recognition of extraordinary inflation is disheartening.”

Commission staff will receive a 3% rise in 2024/25 after a 2.4% pay award this year.

Members’ salaries and related costs – which are set by the independent remuneration board rather than the commission – will increase by £1.3m, up 7.5% on 2023/24.

Commission staff and members are on different terms. Staff are in the middle of a long-term agreement, negotiated with PCS, whereas members’ pay and expenses are decided annually through the remuneration board’s determination.

The latest determination shows MSs receive a base salary of £69,958 a year, with certain office holders such as the first minister, cabinet members and committee chairs  receiving an additional top-up of £9,000 to £83,000 a year.


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Sally-Anne
Sally-Anne
5 months ago

Things are rapidly coming undone in Cymru.Ver quickly. In Wrecsam right now there is virtually no NHS. WCBC can’t serve its community, it can’t pick up the bins, it can’t deal with the littering and fly-tipping problems, its housing repairs department has chased itself into a corner, adult social care is close to non-existent, reports made to the email of child protection services go undealt with. Swastikas are daubed on buildings and the best response you can get from WCBC is “yeah…and?” Betsi Cadwaladr is a disaster….and I am willing to wager that it isn’t the only NHS Trust that… Read more »

Last edited 5 months ago by Sally-Anne
Utah
Utah
5 months ago

If the contents of that article weren’t so ridiculously criminal they would be hilarious.
The base pay for an MS is £70,000 yet they still want a “cost of living payment”.
A vast amount of the people in this country are living on the breadline. Yet these MSs, who are doing nothing worthwhile for people of Wales, live in splendor with huge pay packets.
This article has sickened me. I am disgusted with with them all at the Sennedd.

Bernard Orwell
Bernard Orwell
5 months ago
Reply to  Utah

Firstly, Its not the MS’s who have asked for the CoL payment its the PCS union representing the Commission Staff who work in the Senedd estate. Secondly, there is no dispute over the CoL payment which has already been paid in line with the settlement agreed between PCS and the Government nationally. The union is now entering into pay negotiations with the Senedd Commission for the pay deal which ends in a couple of years time. This article is very poorly written and is not reflective of the facts.

Vance Grffiths
Vance Grffiths
5 months ago
Reply to  Bernard Orwell

What do the staff get paid?

Bernard Orwell
Bernard Orwell
5 months ago
Reply to  Vance Grffiths

I believe they are paid inline with all other graded civil serants in Wales. You should be able to find the payscales through a quick google search or a request to the commission.

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