Agenda and minutes
Contact: Clerk of the Remuneration Board
(9:45 – 10:00)
1.1 The Chair welcomed Gwion
Evans who had been appointed the new Clerk of the Remuneration Board.
Board discussed the procedure for Board members declaring interests at each
meeting. It was agreed that, in addition to any general interests of potential relevance to the Board’s
work previously declared and registered, members should declare particular
interests when relevant to specific items on the agenda.
1.3 The Chair provided feedback from the Assembly
Member Representative group and Assembly Member Support Staff (AMSS) Representative
Group meetings and the drop-in session held during Plenary on 27 January.
1.4 Subject to minor
amendments, the Board agreed the minutes of the meeting on 10 December 2015.
(10:00 – 10:30)
Consideration of the Board's work programme and reflections on induction
Board considered a paper outlining the work scheduled to be undertaken and
forthcoming key decision required. The Board considered the work plan for the
spring/summer term 2016 along with the development of a medium to long term
strategic work programme.
The Chair invited Board members
to report on their work shadowing experiences with AMs and AMSS.
The Head of Communications at the
Assembly Commission facilitated a discussion on recent media coverage of the
previous Board’s determination.
The Board agreed to write to the
AMSS representative group stating that, in line with the decision of the
previous Board, reimbursement of activity relating to political party
conference would not be allowed.
The Board noted that the
recruitment process for the appointment of an independent Chair of the new
Pension Board for the National Assembly for Wales Member Pension Scheme had
begun and that the sifting of applications would take place in February. The
Board noted that interviews would take place in March with the aim of
appointing a successful candidate by the beginning of the Fifth Assembly.
The Board noted that the final
meeting of the Board of Trustees for the current Assembly Member Pension Scheme
would take place on 1st February 2016. The Board agreed to write to
the Board of Trustees thanking them for their diligent
managing the existing pension scheme and supporting the development of the new
The Board received an update on
preparations for the new Assembly Member pension scheme. The Board had received
correspondence from the UK Government Actuary’s Department (GAD) inviting it
and the Trustees to consider options for the Assembly Commission’s contribution
to the new pension scheme before the contribution level is confirmed. Board
members agreed to examine the options available further before making a
decision to inform GAD of how it wishes to see the Scheme funded, by 29
The Board received a briefing on
AMSS Pensions contributions. This outlined the Wales Audit Office had
identified that due to an administrative arrangement the current Commission
contributions to the AMSS pension scheme are marginally above the 10% stated in
the Determination. The Board agreed that this was a technical issue involving
relatively small amounts and that it was content for the arrangement to
continue. It was agreed that the Pensions Team would inform the Wales Audit
The Board confirmed the following
Thursday 24 March
Tuesday 5 July (afternoon) and
Wednesday 6 July (morning). The Board agreed to use the afternoon on 5 July
(subject to the Assembly timetable) to meet new Members and answer queries on
the Determination posed by new and returning members.
The Board agreed to consider
proposals for the September meeting on strategic thinking and engagement at the
meeting in March.
(10:30 – 11:15)
Engaging Members in the Fifth Assembly
The Board considered options for
early engagement with new and returning Members following the 2016 Welsh
The Board also identified key
stakeholders that they felt it would be appropriate to meet with during the
early stages of the fifth Assembly. These included the new Presiding Officer,
the Assembly Commission and political parties for the Fifth Assembly. They
would be approached by the Board’s secretariat with a view to organising
meetings following the elections.
(11:30 – 12:15)
Proposals for Governance Principles and guidance on the conduct of business for the Remuneration Board
Board considered a paper outlining the draft content of potential ‘Governance
Principles’ and discussed how the document may be best utilised to inform the
Board’s work programme in the future.
Board agreed that it should exchange good practice with other Boards and panels
on a regular basis, for instance in the practices of taking evidence. The Board
also noted that supporting officials should engage with their peers supporting
those Board and panels.
Board agreed that the Governance Principles document should include reference
to the Board’s financial governance and, in particular the principles for
managing the Board’s finances appropriately.
(12:15 – 12:45)
Residential Allowances 2016-17: Agree consultation
The Board considered additional
information to inform their decision on setting the maximum entitlement for the
Residential Accommodation Expenditure (RAE) Allowance.
The Board agreed that the current
provision of a £735 a month allowance is sufficient for Members. In line with
this decisions, the Board also agreed to maintain the rate of the RAE
subsidiary allowances relating to essential repairs on mortgaged properties
which is currently set at 10% of the annual outer area allowance.
The Board also confirmed the sum
for the caring responsibilities allowance (subject to the approval of a
business case) of up to £1,440 per annum to cover the higher cost of suitable
The Board agreed to consult
Members on these proposals.
The Board agreed that the
Assembly Commission’s Members’ Business Support should receive copies of the
rental agreements of all Members from now on.
(13:45 – 14:15)
Policy, Research and Communications Fund: Consideration of draft guidance for Assembly Members
Board discussed the draft guidance on the Policy, Research and Communications
Fund, which would come into effect from the start of the Fifth Assembly.
The Board noted that, when the
former Board came to consider the use of the Fund as part of its review of the
Determination for the Fifth Assembly, it agreed on two principal changes:
that the level of funding
available to each Member would be increased from £2,000 per annum to £2,500 per
that the fund be expanded to
permit Members to engage with their constituents, hence the change of the title
from ‘Policy & Research Fund’ to the ‘Policy, Research & Communications
Board noted that the Commissioner for Standards had been consulted on the draft
rules and guidance and his feedback had been incorporated into the latest draft
of the guidance.
latest draft includes points to note:
the communications element is not
available to political parties; there will be a moratorium on the use of the
fund from January in the year of a National Assembly for Wales election until
Board agreed that there should be an explicit prohibition on Members being able
to award contracts to family members through the fund.
Board noted there will be a formal review period after 12 months to ensure that
the Fund is being used appropriately and achieving its aims.
Business Support agreed to provide information on all applications during this
(14:15 – 15:15)
Support for political parties
Board considered a paper on support of political parties in the Fifth Assembly
and reviewed the total sum for the Political Party Support Allowance that will
be available in the first year of the Fifth Assembly. The previous Board
suggested that the amount set by them (£900,000) should increase in line with
the pay award made to support staff for 2016-17.
The Board considered a number of
factors, including inflation and that approximately 90% of the fund is spent on
salaries. They agreed that the total Political Party Support Allowance of
£900,000 should be increased by 1.1%, in line with the proposed increase in the
pay award to AM Support Staff or by the change in the CPI in the year to April
2016, whichever is greater.
The Board noted that salaries of
staff of individual Members whose posts are redundant following the election
will be paid until the last day of their employment through the Members’
Winding-Up allowance. However, there is no similar allowance for party group
staff who are employed by the party group and not individual AMs
The Board therefore agreed that
the salaries of party group staff whose posts are to be made redundant should
be funded centrally from the Assembly Commission. The Board agreed to invite
responses to this decision.
Any Other Business
Board requested an overview of all resources provided to support Members,
whether provided directly by the Assembly Commission or through the
Determination. This should include facilities provided for home working and