1. Councillors L.R. Bowen, J.M. Charles, M.D. Cranham, S. Godfrey-Coles, D.M. Cundy, B. Davies, L.M. Davies, T. Davies, A. Evans, H.A.L. Evans, L.D. Evans, N. Evans, R.E. Evans, J.P. Hart, T.M. Higgins, P.M. Hughes, J.D. James, R. James, G.H. John, A.C. Jones, H. Jones, A. Leyshon, K. Madge, D. Nicholas, M. Palfreman, B.A.L. Roberts and F. Walters had earlier declared interests in this item and, left the meeting;
2. All officers in attendance were deemed to have a personal interest in this item and left the meeting prior to its consideration with the exception of the the Democratic Services Manager, Democratic Services Officer and officers who were facilitating the webcasting of the meeting.
3. As the Cabinet Member for Organisation and Workforce had declared an interest in this item and left the meeting, the Cabinet Member for Health and Social Services presented the report on his behalf.]
Prior to the departure of the aforementioned from the meeting, which included the Chair and Vice-Chair, it was moved, seconded and
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that Cllr. Dot Jones be appointed to Chair the meeting for this item.
The Cabinet Member for Health and Social Services, on behalf of the Cabinet Member for Organisation and Workforce, presented the report which outlined that, under the provisions of the Localism Act 2011 all Local Authorities were required to prepare a Pay Policy Statement which must be agreed and published by 1st April every year.
The Cabinet Member for Health and Social Services stated that, unlike many Authorities, Carmarthenshire County Council had a politically balanced Pay Policy Advisory Panel, which have already considered and advised on the Pay Policy Statement. The format of the Statement was, she added, compliant with the relevant legislation and guidance including guidance issued by the Welsh Government and best practice developed by the former Public Services Staff Commission. This year’s Pay Policy Statement did not differ hugely from what had been presented this time last year. The key amendments were updated introductions from the Leader, and Chief Executive, which reflected the very different demands which had been placed upon the Council, post the COVID-19 pandemic and the current economic and financial pressures that society in general was facing.
It was the Authority’s wish to continue to support the lowest paid, by ensuring that the voluntary Real Living Wage threshold was met by paying the equivalent of £10.90 per hour from 1st April 2023. The 22/23 Pay Award also removed point 1 of the salary scales and therefore the lowest hourly rate would be £10.59. The Pay Advisory Panel had therefore recommended that support for the lowest paid be continued by paying a supplement to bring hourly rates up to the Real Living Wage rate of £10.90.
The Cabinet Member for Health and Social Services advised on the further support for lowest paid staff, particularly our Home Care and Residential Care Workers and Refuse Loaders and Drivers. Trade Unions had raised an issue with the pay grading of the Refuse Loaders and refuse Drivers over a year ago. As a result the job profiles for both had been revised to reflect the new and proposed duties that both sets of workers would be undertaking to deliver the expectations of the new Waste Strategy. Both had seen an increase in their grades, with the Refuse Loaders going from a Grade C to a Grade D, and the Drivers going from a Grade E to a Grade F. Comparing the salaries from April 2023 to the same period last year this represented an increase in salary of 24% for the loaders. For the drivers compared with this time last year the total increase for their pay would be 27% overall. Taking into account the 2023/24 pay award that had yet to be agreed. The trade unions had confirmed that they were still in dispute with the authority on this issue and intended to ballot their members.
The Cabinet Member for Health and Social Services commented that the Pay Panel Advisory Panel had considered a number of Pay Model Options to include one that reflected the removal of Scale Point One as this has been agreed nationally, at an additional cost of £10k. The preferred Pay Model submitted by the Trade Unions had seen the removal of all the overlapping grades and also the reduction of the number of scale points per grade to two. This option had been costed at nearly £5m. The Panel had taken into account the challenges brought about by Government economic Policies in the Autumn which had led to the Authority potentially facing a budget deficit of around £40m. It was considered, therefore, that the Council had little choice other than to use the salaries headroom budget relied on by the Trade Unions to fund their preferred model to assist in producing a balanced budget.
The Panel had also considered a Pay Model that removed all overlapping grades at an estimated cost of £2.5m, a further Pay model that removed overlapping grades up to and including Grade F, at an estimated cost of £1.25m, and, finally, a pay Model that removed overlapping grades up to and including Grade D, at an estimated cost of £200k. It had accepted the financial difficulties that the Authority, like all other Authorities, was facing, but had expressed a commitment to review the bottom end of the Payscale during the next financial year, and possibly consider a ‘phased approach’ to implementing any changes. Members of the Panel had requested that a review be undertaken of the Authority’s current pay model within the next financial year, to take into account the statutory national living wage as well as the voluntary Real Living Wage.
Council was reminded that teachers pay did not fall within the scope of this pay policy statement as teachers had their own pay policy which school governing bodies were required to adopt.
RESOLVED that the Pay Policy Statement 2023/24 be approved in compliance with Section 38(1) of the Localism Act 2011.
[Whereupon the members who had declared an interest and had left the meeting were readmitted and Cllr. R.E. Evans took the Chair].