22 October 2012

Once more the pay of Cornwall councillors is being considered. The non-councillor panel has suggested an annual basic pay of £16 200: see here. In January I suggested £16 133 a year was a “reasonable benchmark”. However, we arrive at these similar figures by different routes. I am unconvinced by the method used by the panel to get to its figure but read the report and see what you think. Incidentally, appendix 3 of the report shows that currently Cornwall councillors are paid more than councillors in most comparator council groups.

How to pay them
In contrast I set out what I think is a more acceptable and coherent approach in this post in January this year: base councillors’ pay on the median pay of all fulltime employees, male and female, in Cornwall. I said:

“There are positive psychological and political reasons for this average-local-pay approach. If councillor basic pay were a to-be-decided percentage of the appropriate median pay of all employees in Cornwall that would relate it directly to the pay of the people the councillors serve. That strikes me as a valuable link, rational and comprehensible, tying the councillors to the local economy, and possibly a mild incentive to councillors to promote policies that increase Cornwall’s prosperity. It gives councillors a stake in the wages of Cornwall as it were; linking councillor pay like this is an argument for solidarity between councillors and people in Cornwall.

There are various ASHE median pay figures for Cornwall and it would be for debate which was the most appropriate. I think the figures for fulltime, men and women, gross annual pay by place of work (table 7.7a) are the most relevant ones. In 2011 this was £21 510 (provisional) for Cornwall: see here. 75 percent of that median would put councillor basic pay at £16 133 a year and that strikes me as a reasonable benchmark.”

Living wage
There is another issue. Should the council should be raising councillors’ pay when some of its employees are apparently paid less than the living wage of £7.20 an hour with no moves towards that wage? Perhaps when they vote they might add a clause to tie in any rise for councillors to a move over time to a living wage for all Cornwall Council workers and council contractor workers. The inaction of the parties of progress and reform in Cornwall on the living wage is deplorable.

Earlier posts
Progress to a living wage 29 June 2011
A living wage for Cornwall 17 May 2011
The pro-Cornish wage 31 August 2010