Third of Welsh AMs employ family members

The Senedd. Picture: Smoobs (CC BY 2.0)

Almost a third of Assembly Members employ family members or relatives of another AM – up from 20% just two years ago.

This includes eight out of 12 Tory AMs who employ family members.

Two of the UKIP group of four also employ their wives – one being Neil Hamilton and his wife Christine.

More than a quarter of Labour AMs (eight out of 29) also employ relatives as does one independent AM, Caroline Jones.

Plaid Cymru have imposed a party ban on employing family members since 2016 and as a result none of their 10 AMs employs a family member.

An Assembly source who passed Nation.Cymru the information but did not wish to be named, said: “It’s no wonder that people are so fed up with politicians when those from the two main parties continue to abuse the system to top-up the family income in this way.

“A minister employing a spouse will be bringing in £120,000 a year. It’s obscene and should be phased out immediately.”

Not all parliaments allow the employment of family members. The Scottish Parliament phased out the practice in 2009 and there is a similar ban in the European Parliament.

In October the independent Remuneration Board said that AMs should be banned from using public cash to employ family members after the 2021 Welsh assembly election.

Ban

Back in 2017, 12 of the 60 AMs employed a family member but this has now risen to 19. Some of these employ other AMs’ relatives.

Some AMs employ more than one family member. Labour minister Rebecca Evans employs her husband as office manager and her sister as a press officer.

Tory AM Mohammed Asghar employs his wife and daughter on a part-time basis.

The First Minister Mark Drakeford employs the partner of a fellow member of his cabinet, Delyn AM Hannah Blythyn, as Labour Group policy and coordination officer.

Tory group leader Paul Davies employs Tory AM Suzy Davies’s son as a senior press officer as well as another Tory AM’s wife as a researcher.

It’s estimated that the combined wages for these family members, some of whom are employed on a part-time basis, would amount to around £500,000 a year with AMs’ staff earning between £18,000 and £39,000 annually.


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