Agenda and minutes
Contact: Clerk of the Remuneration Board
(9:00 – 9:15)
1.1 The Chair welcomed Board
members to the meeting.
1.2 The Board agreed the
minutes of the meeting on 28 January 2016.
(9:15 – 9:45)
Update and consideration of the Board's work programme
and Work Programme – Paper 2
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.
The Board discussed the outcome
of discussions on the Enterprise Bill.
The Board noted that the
Legislative Consent Motion was agreed by the Assembly, alongside assurances by
the Minister for Public Services that the Government would not seek to exercise
The Board outlined concerns with
the principle that the Bill did not reflect the Remuneration Board’s role and
remit in Wales.
The Board agreed
to monitor discussions on how the arrangements under the Bill will work in
practice and seek an update from the Presiding Officer as to any commitments
made by the Treasury.
The Board noted that HM Treasury
were considering the final pension scheme and that it was anticipated that
formal approval of the scheme would be obtained in the coming weeks.
Following discussions between Michael Redhouse
and the Government Actuary Department (GAD), the Board agreed to advise GAD that
the contribution rate in the new pension scheme should be 10.5% for Members and
15.6% for the Assembly Commission. This would be reflected in the final scheme
to HMT for approval.
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 was
underway. Although Michael Redhouse was the Board’s representative on the
recruitment panel, the Board noted that it was required to formally appoint the
successful candidate following the recruitment exercise.
AMSS Job descriptions
The Board noted responses to the Members’
Business Support (MBS) consultation on AMSS job descriptions which would help
them enhance the recruitment process and reflect the range of AMSS positions
across Members’ offices and Groups.
The Board agreed that the
existing standard template for job descriptions for AMSS was fit for purpose.
Update on Board finances and forecasting for
the 2016/17 financial year
Board noted the financial update for its work and the overall budget for
Board agreed that it should receive bi-annual reviews of its budget and the
overall budget for Assembly Members.
The Board requested further information
on the under-spend in the overall Members’ budget.
Proposals for a strategic away
day in September
Board agreed that it would hold its strategic away day in the Assembly’s Colwyn
Bay Office to engage with AMSS based in constituency offices in North Wales.
Board agreed that the away day should consist of inviting AMSS to attend a drop
in session and individual visits to constituency offices to experience
first-hand the challenges faced by AMSS.
2.14 The Board agreed to consider a draft programme for the away day at its next meeting. This should include areas which the Board will wish to consider to help inform its decisions leading up to the ... view the full minutes text for item 2.
(9:45 – 10:45)
Item for decision: Annual review of Determination: Consideration of consultation responses 2016-17
The Board considered the
following amendments to the draft Determination 2016-17 and responses to the
consultation. The Board agreed to:
Increase AMSS salaries for
2016-17 by 1.1% in line with the provisional 2015 figures for ASHE median
earnings in Wales (to be implemented on 1 April);
maintain the maximum entitlement
to residential accommodation allowance for outer area Members which is
currently £735 per month for rent payments, set the carers allowance at £1,440
per annum and continue the rate of the RAE subsidiary allowance relating to
essential repairs on mortgaged properties which is currently set at 10% of the
annual outer area allowance;
increase the office costs
allowance by 1% (to be implemented on 1 April); and
increase the total party support
allowance to £909,900. For simplicity
this has been expressed £910,000.
The Board agreed to consider
provisions in the Determination for the Residential Accommodation Expenditure
(RAE) once new Assembly Members have been elected if any issues arose.
The Board agreed to respond to
the consultation responses on proposals for AMSS salaries 2016-17 from the
Welsh Conservatives and the Welsh Labour Group. The Board agreed to take into
account the matters raised on AMSS salaries as part of its strategic planning
In relation to the office costs allowance, the
Board noted that CPI is currently 0.3% and the next figures will be released on
22 March. The figures for April 2016 inflation will be out mid-May.
The Board noted that the latest Bank of England
(Feb 2016) forecast of CPI for inflation in quarter 1 of 2016 is estimated at
0.4% rising to 1.2% by quarter 1 of 2017.
The Board agreed that Determination should be
amended to include the proposed increase in office costs allowance by 1%.
The Board noted that the current
Determination refers to ‘Opposition Party leader’ with no reference to the fact
that they require three Members in a party to be a group and therefore receive
the salary. The Board agreed that amending the wording to reflect this and the
corresponding Standing Order requirement would add clarity to the provision in
(11:00 – 11:30)
Item for decision: AMSS pension scheme: Provision for an Independent Financial Adviser
Board considered a paper outlining The Assembly Member Support Staff Pension
Scheme presented by Donna Davies, Head of Pensions, Assembly Commission.
Board noted that an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) is aligned to the
Scheme who is currently paid by commission for the services provided and the
anticipated future costs for the service, given that it would no longer be
operating on this basis.
The Board considered feedback from AMSS on
this service and suggestions for improvement in the support they receive on
understanding their pension scheme.
Board noted that the Assembly Commission would shortly conduct a review of the
AMSS pension scheme.
The Board agreed that the contract for the
current IFA should be terminated. Instead the Board agreed that the
Pensions Team in the Assembly Commission should become the main point of
contact for AMSS with queries about their pension.
Board agreed that the Pensions team should write to members and their staff
explaining the change and confirming the new arrangements.
Head of Pensions to keep Board
informed of progress in implementing the new provision for pensions advice to
(11:30 – 12:30)
Item for decision: AM pensions: Consideration of roles and responsibilities relating to the Pension Scheme
Board considered a paper clarifying the roles and responsibilities in relation
to the new Pension Scheme as a basis for a new Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) between the Pensions Board and the Remuneration Board.
Board noted the roles and responsibilities and the Memorandum of Understanding
and confirmed that it was satisfied with how the role of the Remuneration Board
will be exercised in practice.
Board agreed that the Government Actuary Department and the new Pension Board
should be invited to comment on the MoU and roles and responsibilities.
The Board also noted that a paper on the cost
cap valuations would be brought to the Board for consideration at its meeting
(13:30 – 14:15)
Item for decision: Proposals for Governance Principles and guidance on the conduct for business for the Remuneration Board
The Board discussed amendments to
the draft Governance Principles and Guidance on the Conduct of Business.
Board agreed that it would consider the content of this document at its away
Board agreed that the descriptors of the Board’s role and principles in the
draft document should be amended to be more easily understood.
Board agreed that it should adopt the Assembly Commission’s bilingual languages
scheme as it was an example of good practice. This should be reflected in the
(14:15 – 14:45)
Overview of resources provided to Assembly Members through the Determination and by the Assembly Commission
Board considered a draft resource which would enable it to gain an improved
understanding of how various allowances interacted and supported AMs.
The Board noted that, where
possible, the resource would clearly set out the budget for each allowance or
service provided, both from the Members Allowance and also from Assembly
Commission central funds, to better reflect the overall package of support for
The Board agreed that it would
consider the resource further at a future meeting.
(15:00 – 16:00)
Engaging Members in the Fifth Assembly
Board agreed to hold a ‘drop-in’ session in the Senedd on Tuesday 5 July.
Board considered key messages reinforcing its approach to its role and remit.
This was to ensure consistent messages are conveyed.
Board agreed that this approach enables the Board to respond to key issues
identified in the previous Board’s Legacy Report and which is also being
considered in the context of the proposed Governance Principles and Supporting
The Board agreed that it would speak to
Assembly Members early in the Fifth Assembly to seek their views and
experiences on the validity and effectiveness of the winding up allowance.
Board requested that the audit report on Members’ allowances should be brought
to a meeting in the future.
Board directed the secretariat to liaise with the party groups to organise
slots within the party meetings as soon as it practicably possible. The Chair
indicated that it was both desirable and necessary for other Board Members to
be available to either support the Chair at those group meetings or represent the
Board requested a briefing note from the secretariat to guide the discussions
at the party meetings.