Scottish Daily Mail
Councillors’ pay ‘does not cut the mustard’
Salary means second jobs a necessity, say Cosla bosses
LOCAL authority chiefs have called for the Scottish Government to raise the salaries of councillors as their pay ‘does not cut the mustard’.
Councillors have told Cosla – the umbrella organisation for local authorities – that their wages do not allow them to make ends meet without a second job.
But the demand for ministers to take a ‘realistic look’ at councillors’ earnings has come at a time when many working people are struggling financially.
Yesterday, campaign group the TaxPayers’ Alliance called for councillors to be made more accountable for the money they receive from the public purse.
Chief executive John O’Connell said: ‘Scotland actually has the most generous councillor allowances in the UK.
‘The level of pay is the same for every Scottish council, but do councillors in Glasgow have the same demands on their time as those in the Orkney Islands?
‘The Scottish Government should consider allowing councillors to set their own level of allowances to make them truly accountable for how much they take from taxpayers each year.’
Leaders at Cosla have said the amount councillors are paid should be brought in line with the Real Living Wage.
The Scottish Government has said it is willing to consider the issue to help attract a more diverse range of people to stand as councillors.
Research carried out by Cosla has found that financial barriers were a factor in several female councillors choosing not to stand for re-election or considering not running at the Scottish local elections in May.
The current salary for a councillor is £18,604, with elected representatives working an average of 38.6 hours a week. More than four in ten (43 per cent) of councillors in the survey reported having a second job and working an average of 24.8 hours per week at this.
Cosla said its research showed that the ‘current remuneration for the responsibilities of the modern councillor’ was insufficient and that they needed to have an extra source of income.
It complained the current salary is less than the Real Living Wage of £9.90 an hour, which equates to an annual salary of £19,562 for a 38-hour week.
Cosla president Alison Evison said: ‘The time has come for a realistic look at the remuneration for the role of a councillor. The current salary is £18,604 and that quite frankly does not cut the mustard. ’
The survey, she said, provides a ‘pivotal opportunity to think about the kind of modern councillor we want, and about the changes that we need to make to attract candidates who could make a real difference to communities across the country’.
She added: ‘We need realistic and proper remuneration that better reflects the role of a modern-day councillor.
‘All of us within local government want to harness the power of a more locally democratic way of doing things, to enable a more diverse range of voices, but people need to be properly remunerated to make this rhetoric a reality.’
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘Since 2017, councillors’ pay has increased annually in line with the percentage increase in the median annual earnings of public sector workers.
‘The Government is open to working with Cosla to further consider this issue.’
‘We need proper remuneration’