This page gives details of any meetings held which will, or did, discuss the matter, and includes links to the relevant Papers, Agendas and Minutes.
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2 Determination on Members’ Pay and Allowances 2019-20
SoC(5)-08-19 – Paper 1 – Remuneration Board: Determination on Members’ Pay and Allowances 2019-20
2.1 Andrew R T Davies AM declared an interest as he employs his wife.
2.2 Members considered the Determination on Members Pay and agreed that the Chair would write to the Chair of the Remuneration Board regarding the employment of family members.
Item for decision: Survey on the effectiveness of the Determination: Report
6.1. The Board considered the report outlining the results of its recent survey on the effectiveness of the Determination and agreed to publish a summary of the results in its Annual Report for 2017 – 2018.
6.2. The Board also agreed to publish relevant extract of the results as and when appropriate to evidence any recommendations it may wish to implement as part of its wider work programme.
The secretariat to prepare a summary of the results for the Board’s consideration in time for the publication of its Annual Report in July.
Item for discussion: Consider the results of the survey to Members and Support Staff on the effectiveness of the Determination
3.1 The Board considered the results of the survey to Members and Support Staff on the effectiveness of the Determination and agreed to:
- publish a summary of the results to the Board’s website and bring this summary to the attention of the Expert Panel on Assembly Electoral Reform; and
- consider the results of the survey as part of its review into Assembly Member Support Staff career structure and their terms and conditions.
The secretariat agreed to:
- incorporate the relevant results into future scoping papers, for the example the review into Assembly Member Support Staff career structure; and
- publish a summary report of the results.
Item for discussion: Support for Political Parties
2.1 The Board considered the paper on support for Political Parties and agreed to consider the provisions regarding support for Political Parties and individuals Members fully at a later date, but at present:
· the salary of Party Leaders will decrease and increase in line with how many Assembly Members are in their group and not on being a member of the Political Party;
· the Political Party Support Allowance will be allocated to independent Members;
· independent Assembly Members can vire funds to political groups in the Assembly.
Item for decision: Next steps of the review of the underpinning principles and effectiveness of the Determination
4.1 The Board considered the draft questionnaire to Assembly Members and AMSSs and agreed to:
· Minor changes in both questionnaires;
· To clearly indicate why elements of the determination have been included or omitted from the questionnaires in line with the Board’s wider forward work programme;
· Pilot the questionnaire with the Assembly Member Representative Group and AMSS Representative Group as a minimum; and
· Identify innovative ways to encourage both groups to complete the questionnaires.
· The Secretariat to amend the questionnaires accordingly and re-circulate electronically to the Board for review.
· The Secretariat to issue a pilot of the questionnaire.
· The Secretariat to issue the final questionnaire’s electronically and in hard copies once agreed.
Item for decision: Consider the outline of the review of the underpinning principles and effectiveness of the Determination
3.1 The Board agreed the parameters of the review of the underpinning principles and effectiveness of the Determination would focus on the current financial package available to Members.
3.2 The Board agreed to issue tailored questionnaires to both AMs and AMSSs to seek their views on underpinning principles and effectiveness of the Determination. Each questionnaire will focus on the relevant sections of the Determination for their role including any new provisions introduced for the Fifth Assembly.
3.3 The Board also agreed this work would be informed through its regular formal and informal communications with both representative groups.
3.4 The Board agreed the timescale for this piece of work.
· The Secretariat to prepare a final questionnaire for the Board to consider outside a formal meeting.
· Subject to Board approval, the Secretariat should issue the questionnaires.
· The Secretariat to provide a summary of the responses at the next meeting.
Consideration of latest issues raised with Members' Business Support
3.1 The Board considered a paper outlining some of the issues that have arisen in applying the determination since the start of the Assembly’s autumn term.
3.2 The Board also discussed some of the issues that have arisen from Members’ discussions with Members Business Support (MBS) and others were raised more formally with the Chair of the Board during her drop in session.
3.3 The issues raised included the flexibility of the staffing structures, residential allowances and the progress of the security review of Member’s constituency offices. This will inform the Board’s strategic discussions for creating a Determination fit for the Sixth Assembly and the annual review of the Determination and the review of the effectiveness of the Determination in 2017.
Item for discussion: Consider scope for review of the underpinning principles and effectiveness of the Determination
6.1 The Board discussed two strands of work relating to the overall support provided to Assembly Members: a review of the effectiveness of the Determination and its impact in the first year of the Fifth Assembly, and the principles underlying the provision of financial support, in particular whether the current approach is too prescriptive.
6.2 At its strategy day, the Board nominated Mike Redhouse to take the lead on this strand of work. The Chair invited him to introduce the scoping paper.
6.3 The Board considered the terms of references for both reviews and discussed how they related to each other;
6.4 The Board discussed the extent to which the Board should carry out consultations for both reviews, including the timescales and the key stakeholders to consult;
6.5 The Board agreed that the annual AM survey, which would be released by the Assembly Commission in February 2017, should inform the Board’s review.
6.6 This review will be conducted over the course of 2017 and will inform the Board’s decisions for the Determination in the Sixth Assembly.
Item for decision: The security of Assembly Members and their staff
1.1 The Board considered a paper outlining a review of security provision in all Constituency/Regional Offices, which was being carried out by the Assembly Police Unit and the Assembly Commission’s Security team. The review was in response to advice from the Wales Counter Terrorism Unit, and in line with similar activity in England.
1.2 The Board considered the financial support for security provisions currently in place and highlighted a number of actions that could be taken to enhance security for Members and their staff when away from the Assembly estate, in light of the Assembly Commission’s decision to review security arrangements at Members’ offices.
1.3 The Board agreed that the security of AMs was a high priority and that any matters that fall into the remit of the Board should be addressed as a matter of priority. The Board emphasised that, following the tragic death of Jo Cox MP, there was greater urgency to review existing security measures.
1.4 The Board agreed that it would need to ensure that measures to help protect Members would be effectively resourced.
1.5 The Board agreed to remove the existing requirement for the first £500 of office related security to be met from the individual AM’s Office Costs from the Determination. The Board agreed to create a ring-fenced fund which would provide necessary and reasonable security enhancements for Assembly Members in their offices, residential accommodation and their homes.
1.6 The Board noted that the security review undertaken by qualified officers identifies enhancements that ‘must’ take place, ‘should’ take place and ‘could’ take place. All enhancements that ‘must’ and ‘should’ take place will be funded by the Assembly Commission. However, the Board agreed that those enhancements that ‘could’ take place would be subject to a business case from Assembly Members.
Overview of resources provided to Assembly Members through the Determination and by the Assembly Commission
7.1 The Board considered a draft resource which would enable it to gain an improved understanding of how various allowances interacted and supported AMs.
7.2 The Board noted that, where possible, the resource would clearly set out the budget for each allowance or service provided, both from the Members Allowance and also from Assembly Commission central funds, to better reflect the overall package of support for AMs.
7.3 The Board agreed that it would consider the resource further at a future meeting.
Office Costs 2016 - 17: first discussion
7.1 The Board considered the office costs allowance and whether it remains appropriate for the financial year 2016-17.
7.2 The Board considered a number of factors, including office rental costs across Wales and inflation.
7.3 The Board agreed to propose an increase to the office costs allowance by 1% or by the change in the CPI in the year to April 2016, whichever is greater.
· Members’ Business Support to provide further information on lease agreements and whether there are likely to be any increases in the beginning of the Fifth Assembly.
· Secretariat to consult on the Board’s proposal for an increase to the office costs allowance by 1% or by the change in the CPI in the year to April 2016, whichever is greater.
AM Allowances: Consider responses to consultation
3.1 The Board considered the summary of responses to the consultation on AM Allowances, in particular they noted the low number of responses.
3.2 Residential Accommodation: The Board emphasised that flexibility should be applied to managing business cases for residential accommodation, but that the zones were helpful in establishing a default position, and expectations. The Board agreed that guidelines should be provided to Assembly Members clearly stating the default position and when they would be required to make a business case for an exception/accommodation support for the Board’s consideration.
3.3 Provision for carers: The Board considered evidence that AMs and Support staff were being required to work later in to the evenings. The Board did not want to provide incentives which might encourage more frequent later working.
3.4 Assembly Member and AMSS travel: The Board agreed that Assembly Members should continue to follow rules on travel costs set out by HMRC. The Board agreed that a move to extend the current 10,000 mile annual limit would not be in line with HMRC rules and could not be justified.
3.5 Office costs and virement of funds between budgets: The Board noted that there was broad support for the proposal in the consultation document. The Board noted that two responses had suggested allowing viring in the other direction – from office costs allowances into staffing allowance – as well. After further consideration, the Board agreed to stick with its proposal. Any requests to vire from the office costs allowances should be directed to Members’ Business Support in the first instance. The Board agreed that there should be flexibility where it is deemed appropriate by the Board and it should not happen automatically.
3.6 Members leaving office: The Board considered the only response, which had been sent by the Welsh Liberal Democrat Group. The Board agreed that its proposal should stand and be included in the consultation on the draft Determination for the Fifth Assembly.
3.7 Equality Impact Assessment and other issues: The Board agreed a clear message should be given to Assembly Members that whilst MBS ensures HMRC tax rules are adhered to, they are not responsible for setting (or negotiating) these rules.
· Members leaving office: Members’ Business Support to conduct research on the costs and what service would be available via an externally provided outplacement service.
Determination for fifth year of Fourth Assembly: Consideration of Determination for consultation
3.1 The Board considered a paper on the annual review of the Determination and the requirement to set the appropriate levels for two particular budgets needing review: accommodation and office costs.
3.2 The Board considered some early responses to recent consultations on allowances for the Fifth Assembly and whether there would be value in bringing forward some proposals (if agreed at the Board’s February meeting) to the last year of the Fourth Assembly.
Assembly Member Allowances
3.1 The Board discussed the Residential Accommodation Allowances an agreed that the consultation should include firm proposals. However, flexibility would be applied in many situations, particularly in case of emergencies.
3.2 The principle for claims should be at the front of the Determination and the onus should be on the AM to make the correct decision on whether to claim or not.
3.4 The Board discussed areas around provision for carers in the existing Determination and agreed proposals for inclusion in the consultation document.
· The Secretariat to ask Diverse Cymru for their view on carers allowances and whether the existing system is appropriate.
Members and AMSS travel
3.5 The Board Discussed proposals for inclusion in the consultation document on Members and AMSS travel
Office Costs and Virements
3.6 The Board agreed that the consultation prposals should include an element of flexibilit on office costs and virements.
Members leaving office
3.7 The Board noted that All Members elected since 2011 are paid a resettlement grant, so long as they are defeated at an election, as one calendar month’s salary for each completed year of service subject to a maximum payment equal to six months’ salary; in addition, Office Holders are entitled to three months’ salary for their additional duties paid at the relevant rate from when they were an Additional Office Holder.
3.8 The Board agreed that its proposals should include a level of support for AMs who unexpectantly leave office.
· The secretariat would prepare a consultation document , which would be published in October, with responses considered at the meeting on 16 January 2014.
Issues for early decision and consultation/communication
· Paper 12 – Note on exceptional allowances provided by Legal Services
4.1 The Board noted that the Chair had received a request asking the Remuneration Board to review exceptional expenses incurred, or to be incurred, in connection with the performance of the duties of Assembly Members.
4.2 The Board considered a paper clarifying the existing practice and setting out a possible way forward which seeks to balance the need for discretion for the applicant, with clear and sound governance, which had been provided by Legal Services.
4.3 The Board agreed that the Determination should be amended and that a consultation should not be issued to Assembly Members. However, the Board agreed that Assembly Members should be informed of any changes made on exceptional expenses in the Determination.
· Secretariat or Members’ Business Support to amend the Determination to reflect proposals in the paper.