(Title Image: Senedd Cymru)
The Independent Remuneration Board has decided that MSs should receive additional financial support relating to disabilities and also funding towards out-of-hours childcare for the Sixth Senedd (pdf).
Financial support for disabled MSs and support staff via the Equality and Access Fund has been increased, while from the start of the next Senedd term in May 2021, MSs will be able to claim up to £297 a month for childcare or dependent adult care provided outside of normal working hours (9 am-6 pm).
MSs salaries will still be linked to changes to gross median full-time earnings in Wales, meaning MS salaries can’t increase by a greater percentage than the full-time workforce. The basic salary of an MS from 2021-22 will be £70,626. Additional top-up payments for ministers and committee chairs are unchanged other than the adjustment to match full-time earnings.
The Board decided that MSs will no longer be able to claim mortgage interest payments for second homes in Cardiff. Any refunds from rental agreements will also need to be repaid to the Senedd Commission, not the member.
MSs will also be required to obtain a proper valuation and legal advice before submitting any claims for a new constituency and regional office. Earlier in the term, the former UKIP MS and anti-devolution campaigner, Gareth Bennett MS, was censured for misusing Senedd funds after renting a dilapidated regional office in Pontypridd.
“New provisions are included in the Determination for 2021-26 to provide additional support for those that need it, such as Members with caring responsibilities and those on parental leave.
“Whilst diversity within the membership of the Senedd is ultimately determined by political parties and the electorate, through the candidates nominated and subsequently elected, this Determination aims to ensure no persons feel unable to stand for election to the Senedd.”
– Dame Dawn Primarolo, Chair of the Remuneration Board
The measures are expected to cost an additional £700,000-a-year from May 2021.