Sunday 12 January 2014

Living Wage and other stories

There's an interesting response to an enquiry concerning the Living Wage on the What Do They Know website. Out of 8744 Carmarthenshire council workers, a staggering 2876 are currently paid less than the Living Wage (which now stands at £7.65 per hour), even more disturbing is that 2583 of those are women. Presumably this Labour led council feels really proud of itself.

Calls for the Living Wage were rejected last year even though the pay ratio between the lowest and highest earner (the Chief Executive) in the authority is 1:13. Jonathan Edwards MP (Plaid) highlighted the discrepancy, particularly as it also emerged at the time that the Chief Executive, for his role as Returning Officer for the 2012 local election was paid £20,000 in advance  - five weeks before the election, in a different financial year and before the number of candidates was even known.

The latest addition to the Chief Executive's pay was the £16,353 in lieu of pension contributions which the appointed auditor has deemed unlawful. Whether or not certain legal expenses could also be considered as some sort of 'pay supplement' remains unknown.

Meanwhile I suspect that many of the low paid female staff will be the first in the firing line when it comes to axing jobs.

Update 13th Jan - Plaid Cymru Carmarthenshire, who's proposals to introduce the Living Wage were thrown out by the Executive Board in September 2012 have today issued a press release reacting to the FOI response above:
Almost 3,000 Council jobs paid less than Living Wage

The Wales Audit Office published its annual report the other day on the 2012 - 2013 Local Government Accounts (pdf). It is a brief overview of the general findings of the external auditors' work related to local councils, local government pension funds and the police. Carmarthenshire is one of a handful of public bodies which has a special paragraph due to the fact that there remains a 'difference of opinion' over the pension and libel indemnity scandals;

"Carmarthenshire County Council received an audit report drawing attention to the appointed auditor’s view on the lawfulness of a ‘pay supplement’ for senior officers  and an indemnity granted to a senior officer for a libel counterclaim. The appointed auditor is considering whether further audit action is required in relation to these issues."

As for the libel indemnity, I assume that the Wales Audit Office are aware that the figure they have, £23k, differs from the one I have, which is £41k. Also, further funding is required, and indeed has been spent, in relation to the one ground of appeal relating to the counterclaim.
(Most recent post here; Libel case - Executive Board meeting)

It's perhaps worth remembering that the council also has itself in financial turmoil over the Scarlets funding arrangements. Not only the question over whether the £20m of public money channelled to this private company has breached EU State Aid (competition) rules but the blindingly bizarre £280,000 'allowable expenses' relating to the Marstons' car park deal. I trust someone, somewhere is looking into that little gem.

Still on the subject of the council's pet rugby club, back in November I mentioned that County Hall's generosity even extends to advertising jobs on behalf of Scarlets Regional Ltd on the council's publicly funded website. This arrangement seems to be continuing with further posts advertised this week. Do you think that this useful service stretches to all Carmarthenshire businesses? Answers on a postcard.


Anonymous said...

How can Carmarthen council possibly justify senior officer's salary when the figures show the high number of workers who earn less than the average wage.Truly shameful.

Anonymous said...

Jacquie: you MUST stand for Parliament at the next general election as an independent. We need people like you.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear anon 19:10!