Memorandum by National Association of
Councillors (LGA 40)
The National Association of Councillors have
welcomed the Local Government Act 2000 which has given a truly
flexible approach to local governance in many areas.
During the consultation process the NAC has
highlighted the need for Government to revisit two areas as follows:
The Act should include provision for payment
of pensions to all local authority elected members, and not just
those who are members of the executive or chairs of scrutiny or
overview committees. It is the view of our membership that excluding
non-executive councillors other than chairs of scrutiny and overview
committees is divisive and devalues the perceived role of non
cabinet and community champions in the newly established council
structure. It is also contrary to equal opportunity principles
in view of the under-representation of ethnic minorities and women
in senior Council positions.
The consultation document proposes that the
independent remuneration panels should make recommendations on
which members of an authority are entitled to joint the Local
Government Pension Scheme. The requirement for one member of the
panel to have pensions expertise, although desirable, is unnecessarily
prescriptive. The remuneration panel would, as a matter of good
practice, look to have some expert technical advice on the operation
of pension schemes. It is already proving difficult to recruit
people with the necessary background and expertise to serve on
remuneration panels. The requirement for a pensions expert as
well as being unnecessary, may prove extremely difficult in practice
The Association remain resolute in their view
that local authorities are best placed to decide on the principle
of offering pensions to its members. In practice, many councillors
who are already retired or semi-retired or who have accrued pension
entitlement through their full-time employment, may not wish to
take up the offer of a local authority pension. This, however,
should be a decision for the individual councillors taking account
of their own financial and personal circumstances.
Provisions in the Local Government Act 2000
allow for the introduction of gratuity payments for retiring councillors.
This is a key plank of the National Association of Councillors
"Restoring the Balance Campaign" which commands a great
deal of support amongst councillors and back bench MPs of all
parties in Parliament. It is the view of the National Association
of Councillors that introducing a system of gratuities for retiring
councillors is in accord with the government's views set out in
the White Paper Modern Local Government: In Touch with the People.
Gratuity allowances for retiring members would reinforce the culture
of the modern council and addresses as far as possible a significant
disincentive to serving in local politics as an elected member.
The NAC have made separate representations on this issue of gratuities
to the Local Government Minister.
To make comment to the response from the Minister,
Councillors are not driven by financial rewards. A one-off payment
may give a 65-year-old Councillor some dignity when retiring after
30 years, but I am sure it would only be a minor factor in the
An example in the scheme the Republic of Ireland
has introduced. The Minister Noel Dempsey TD believes that the
gratuity went some way to opening up opportunities for the young
and encouraging a better gender balance. (His comments can be
seen on page 6 of the Councillor Magazine).
The Welsh Assembly have introduced a scheme
for the Councils of Wales (see Appendix) Northern Ireland and
Scotland are in the process of consultation. The Association believes
that all elected members should be treated the same throughout