Councillors voting against allowances recommended by The Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales could be illegal

Reporter:

Elgan Hearn

A DECISION by Welshpool Town Councillors to refuse receiving allowances recommended by the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales could be illegal.

According to Welshpool town clerk Robert Robinson the vote at the last full council meeting to refuse allowances of £150, up to £500 for those with special responsibility and £403 a month carer’s allowance might not count.

This is because all councillors need to put their personal choice in written form.

Even then Mr Robinson believes that the carer’s allowance, which could blow a £77,000 hole in the Welshpool budget in a worst case scenario, is mandatory and will be forced upon them.

Since the meeting Mr Robinson has been in talks with the panel to try to clarify the situation.

Mr Robinson said: “The panel says we have got to do this.

“There is a meeting of the panel on December 14 when they will decide whether or not to go ahead with this scheme.

“It’s caused a huge headache for us and the vote by the councillors does show how they feel about having a decision imposed on them.

“Councillors who don’t want to claim the allowances will have to write a letter explaining that.

“My worry is that many community councils don’t know what’s going on and it’s a serious issue.”

A spokeswoman for the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales, said: “We have had discussions with Welshpool Town Council on this issue as part of a consultation.

“This is a draft report that has been out to consultation and we have received many responses to it from all parts of Wales.

“The report was written after meetings across Wales and evidence gathered that this was needed.”

The spokeswoman added that the report will be discussed at the panel’s next meeting on December 14 and if passed would come in to force by the end of February 2018.

The proposal that Welshpool Town councillors do not like is called Determination 50.

The remuneration panel, which sets the allowances and expenses for politicians in Wales, believes that the carer’s allowance would encourage more diversity on councils.

For many years there have been moves to try to find younger, more female and minorities people to stand for elections.

Determination 50 says: “Community and town councils must provide for the reimbursement of necessary costs for the care of dependent children and adults (provided by informal or formal carers) and for personal assistance needs up to a maximum of £403 per month.

“Reimbursement must be for the additional costs incurred by members in order for them to carry out their approved duties.

“Reimbursement shall only be made on production of receipts from the carer.”

Email:

elgan.hearn@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the County Times

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