COUNCIL leaders across Gwent are in line for pay rises of more than £3,000 next year.
The body which sets the pay for councillors across Wales wants Newport City Council leader Jane Mudd and her counterpart in Caerphilly, Sean Morgan, to be paid nearly £63,000 each next year.
It also thinks the elected leaders of Blaenau Gwent, Monmouthshire and Torfaen councils should get pay rises of more than £3,000.
The Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales is also recommending the basic salary for all councillors serving on Wales’ 22 unitary authorities – such as Newport City Council and Torfaen Borough Council – should rise to £18,666 from April 1 next year.
That is a £1,066 increase on the £17,600 they have received since taking their seats following the local government elections held in May 2022.
The current basic salary was a 4.76 per cent rise on the previous figure after the Independent Renumeration Panel for Wales said the “imbalance” between the basic salary and the average salaries of their constituents – measured against the Office for National Statistics’ 2020 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data – needed to be reduced.
This year’s increase is intended to retain the link between a councillor’s basic salary and average earnings and it will be aligned with three fifths of the all Wales 2022 ASHE figure.
The panel said the salary, paid on a basis of working three days a week, had fallen behind average earnings since the 2017 elections which is why it has retained the link established last year and it is “fully aware of the current constraints on public funding and the impact its decisions will have on budgets”.
The basic salary is intended to “provide a fair and reasonable remuneration package” and are also intended to ensure people aren’t financially disadvantaged from serving as councillors.
The pay rises for council leaders have also been determined in line with the ASHE figure and this means the leaders of Wales’ biggest councils, such as Cardiff and Rhondda Cynon Taf, will receive a salary of £69,998 from April next year.
As the leaders of what are the second largest councils, known as group B councils, Cllr Mudd in Newport and Cllr Morgan in Caerphilly are being recommended for increases of £3,598 from next year which will take their salaries to £62,998.
Their deputy leaders should, the panel says, get pay rises of £2,519 to take their salaries to £44,099 while cabinet members – who have responsibilities for areas such as education, leisure and finance – are in line for an extra £2,159 to boost their salaries to £37,799.
The leaders of Gwent’s three other principal councils, which make up Group C of smaller councils, haven’t been forgotten by the panel.
It wants Monmouthshire council leader Mary Ann Brocklesby, Torfaen’s top man Anthony Hunt and Blaenau Gwent’s big boss Stephen Thomas to each take home £59,498 from April next year.
That is a £3,398 increase on their current salaries, while their deputies are being recommended to receive increases of £2,379 so their salaries from next year will be £41,649 while cabinet members at those councils should get raises of £2,039 to take their pay to £35,699.
The panel has also recommended the pay for the largest opposition group leaders on both band B and C councils is increased by £1,599, taking their salaries to £27,999 with the same increase and new salary, for any committee chair roles which are paid a senior salary.
The panel has said it maintained a cap on the number of senior salaries that can be paid and hasn’t proposed any changes to the banding that determines the level of senior salaries. Those salaries included the £18,666 paid to all councillors.
Senior salaries paid to the leaders of other political groups, presiding officers or civic heads, such as a mayor or chairman, which aren’t paid by all councils, have been frozen.
The panel is also recommending councillors who are appointed to National Parks, including the Bannau Brycheiniog which includes members from Torfaen and Monmouthshire, be paid a basic salary of £5,265 for their membership of the park authorities while membership of a fire and rescue authority should carry a basic salary of £2,632.
Town and community councils will, it is recommended have to pay their members £156 a year (equivalent to £3 a week) towards the extra household expenses (including heating, lighting, power and broadband) of working from home and £52 a year for the cost of office consumables required to carry out their role, or alternatively enable members to claim full reimbursement for the cost of their office consumables.
The panel, which hasn’t published current salary figures for comparison only the proposed increases and new salary levels, is consulting on its plans until Friday, December 8.
Councils must accept the pay awards, when confirmed by the panel, but individual councillors are able to decline all or part of the pay rises.