Newport councillors prepare for budget vote amid living wage row

First published in Gwent news

COUNCILLORS in Newport will tonight vote on this year's 2014/15 budget – with a 4.5 per cent rise in council tax and £10 million in cuts – amid arguments over whether low paid staff should get better pay.

Newport council Tory leader Matthew Evans has declined a call from Labour backbencher Chris Evans to support proposals in the budget for a living wage, which would see some low paid council workers get a pay rise.

Cllr Evans is expected to present his own alternative proposals for the budget tonight, details of which are being kept under wraps.

Earlier this month cabinet members decided to set aside £75,000 for the continuation of the Christmas lights for three years, if external sponsorship could not be found in time.

But other saving plans stayed in place with cabinet members recommending a 4.5 per cent increase in council tax.

The budget for 2014/15 includes proposals to increase wages for low paid workers to the level of the "living wage" - £7.65 an hour.

Currently the council has 1,600 staff earning less than the living wage, calculated by the Living Wage Foundation according to the basic cost of living in the UK.

A total of £1.04 million is likely to be put aside in 2014/15 and 2015/16 for the plan.

Chris Evans, Labour councillor for Rogerstone, said: “It’s interesting to note the Conservatives, who seem to cynically jump on every bandwagon, have been rather silent in the living wage debate.

“I’d like to challenge them to come out and support Newport Labour's pledge.”

But Cllr Matthew Evans declined, telling the Argus: “The living wage has admittedly got some benefits but it also makes your workforce less competitive.

"There’s essentially a chance of creating more unemployment by having it.”

The living wage will be introduced at the same time as a new pay and grading structure later this year.

Tonight councillors will vote on the 2014/15 budget, where £10 million of savings need to be made, and the proposed council tax rise, as well as the more indicative medium term financial plan for the next four years which can be revised as time goes on.

Overall the council aims to save £25 million over four years.

Savings for the next financial year include cutting £333,000 from the council’s IT services budget, £105,000 from the Newport Ship budget and £86,000 by closing the museum and central library one day a week.

It is also proposed to withdraw the Newport Schools Library Service, saving £40,000, and establishing a new joint venture to run property services, saving £103,000 in 2014/15.

The Argus will be covering tonight's meeting live on Twitter. Follow @ArgusDDeans and our website.

Comments (16)

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6:54am Tue 25 Feb 14

spartucus says...

The simple answer to the question of a living wage is to do what a neighboring council has done, give the wage to the lowest paid. and then half the hours or drastically cut the hours given to the lowest paid, and make them worse off.,,, BUT !! make sure management are untouched, or even give them pay rises. simple economics of the local government.
yes i know... sarcasm is the lowest form of wit..
The simple answer to the question of a living wage is to do what a neighboring council has done, give the wage to the lowest paid. and then half the hours or drastically cut the hours given to the lowest paid, and make them worse off.,,, BUT !! make sure management are untouched, or even give them pay rises. simple economics of the local government. yes i know... sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.. spartucus
  • Score: 9

7:26am Tue 25 Feb 14

Woodgnome says...

Let's be realistic Cllr Chris Evans - that's what opposition parties are for. Challenging a solid majority party with this administration's recent history is not only perfectly healthy but highly desirable.
Let's be realistic Cllr Chris Evans - that's what opposition parties are for. Challenging a solid majority party with this administration's recent history is not only perfectly healthy but highly desirable. Woodgnome
  • Score: 0

7:40am Tue 25 Feb 14

BobEvams2014 says...

Why not just sack all the staff and replace with 'workfare' people who are free ?

Silly me Bobby, Ken and Co already do this ..........
Why not just sack all the staff and replace with 'workfare' people who are free ? Silly me Bobby, Ken and Co already do this .......... BobEvams2014
  • Score: 2

9:10am Tue 25 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

Is it worth mentioning that if it was decided to cut Will Godfrey's salary from £136k to £96k then we could still afford the Newport Schools Library Service?

I know Mr. Godfrey might struggle on £96k/pa + benefits, +pension - but I know that as someone who cares about Newport and the future of our young, then such massive hardship wouldn't be in vain.
Is it worth mentioning that if it was decided to cut Will Godfrey's salary from £136k to £96k then we could still afford the Newport Schools Library Service? I know Mr. Godfrey might struggle on £96k/pa + benefits, +pension - but I know that as someone who cares about Newport and the future of our young, then such massive hardship wouldn't be in vain. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 14

9:30am Tue 25 Feb 14

Blodwen Puw says...

These are tough times and tough decisions have to be made but they should be fair.

Do we know current salaries/expenses paid for being a councillor and cabinet member?

Do we know if they have been awarded any increases in the last couple of years, and if so, did other council workers receive similar increases?

Fair play is critical in times like these.
These are tough times and tough decisions have to be made but they should be fair. Do we know current salaries/expenses paid for being a councillor and cabinet member? Do we know if they have been awarded any increases in the last couple of years, and if so, did other council workers receive similar increases? Fair play is critical in times like these. Blodwen Puw
  • Score: 4

10:52am Tue 25 Feb 14

newporteast says...

Withdraw the Newport Schools Library Service, what a disgrace.
How much an hour does a councillor earn are they on a living wage. Do you ever see councillor in your ward NOT in RINGLAND?
It’ been four years since I have seen my local MP, election coming up soon.
Withdraw the Newport Schools Library Service, what a disgrace. How much an hour does a councillor earn are they on a living wage. Do you ever see councillor in your ward NOT in RINGLAND? It’ been four years since I have seen my local MP, election coming up soon. newporteast
  • Score: 4

1:34pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Lewis SWA says...

Blodwen Puw wrote:
These are tough times and tough decisions have to be made but they should be fair.

Do we know current salaries/expenses paid for being a councillor and cabinet member?

Do we know if they have been awarded any increases in the last couple of years, and if so, did other council workers receive similar increases?

Fair play is critical in times like these.
FYI; Councillor allowances..

http://www.newport.g
ov.uk/_dc/index.cfm?
fuseaction=members.h
omepage&contentid=CO
NT505420

The total is just under £900k, quite the eye opener.
[quote][p][bold]Blodwen Puw[/bold] wrote: These are tough times and tough decisions have to be made but they should be fair. Do we know current salaries/expenses paid for being a councillor and cabinet member? Do we know if they have been awarded any increases in the last couple of years, and if so, did other council workers receive similar increases? Fair play is critical in times like these.[/p][/quote]FYI; Councillor allowances.. http://www.newport.g ov.uk/_dc/index.cfm? fuseaction=members.h omepage&contentid=CO NT505420 The total is just under £900k, quite the eye opener. Lewis SWA
  • Score: 6

1:35pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Votefornoneoftheabove says...

newporteast wrote:
Withdraw the Newport Schools Library Service, what a disgrace.
How much an hour does a councillor earn are they on a living wage. Do you ever see councillor in your ward NOT in RINGLAND?
It’ been four years since I have seen my local MP, election coming up soon.
Newport East, the three Ringland councillors cost Newport taxpayers around £71 thousand pounds last year, that's around £45 thousand for Bright and £13 thousand each for the two others.

You will see councillors around Ringland soon as the euro elections are in May this year, one of the local councillors has reference to it on a twitter page. John Griffiths was only in the Argus last week mentioning the development of the Milton Court tower block.

If you do some maths and say a councillor works 20 hours per week as an average x 52 weeks per year is 1040 hours worked. If you then divide that by the £13000 allowance they are paid you get an hourly rate of £12.50p so not too bad.

If you do some maths for Newport's dear leader 40 hours per week (hah) x 52 weeks is 2080 hours worked. If you divide this by his £45000 allowance he gets £21.63 per hour.

Add them all up for Ringland, a total of 80 hours per week worked x by the weekly rates means that just for the Ringland ward Newport taxpayers pay £1365.20p per week.

Chris Evans may have a point though, if you PAY COUNCILLORS THE LIVING WAGE for the hours they work it is startling what Newport could save on councillors allowances.

Councillor Bright's salary would then become £15912 for a 40 hour week saving Newport's taxpayer a staggering £29088.

All councillors working a 20 hour week would get £7956 per year saving £5044 for each councillor.

Perhaps this will be in Chris Evans alternative budget tonight, I think not!
[quote][p][bold]newporteast[/bold] wrote: Withdraw the Newport Schools Library Service, what a disgrace. How much an hour does a councillor earn are they on a living wage. Do you ever see councillor in your ward NOT in RINGLAND? It’ been four years since I have seen my local MP, election coming up soon.[/p][/quote]Newport East, the three Ringland councillors cost Newport taxpayers around £71 thousand pounds last year, that's around £45 thousand for Bright and £13 thousand each for the two others. You will see councillors around Ringland soon as the euro elections are in May this year, one of the local councillors has reference to it on a twitter page. John Griffiths was only in the Argus last week mentioning the development of the Milton Court tower block. If you do some maths and say a councillor works 20 hours per week as an average x 52 weeks per year is 1040 hours worked. If you then divide that by the £13000 allowance they are paid you get an hourly rate of £12.50p so not too bad. If you do some maths for Newport's dear leader 40 hours per week (hah) x 52 weeks is 2080 hours worked. If you divide this by his £45000 allowance he gets £21.63 per hour. Add them all up for Ringland, a total of 80 hours per week worked x by the weekly rates means that just for the Ringland ward Newport taxpayers pay £1365.20p per week. Chris Evans may have a point though, if you PAY COUNCILLORS THE LIVING WAGE for the hours they work it is startling what Newport could save on councillors allowances. Councillor Bright's salary would then become £15912 for a 40 hour week saving Newport's taxpayer a staggering £29088. All councillors working a 20 hour week would get £7956 per year saving £5044 for each councillor. Perhaps this will be in Chris Evans alternative budget tonight, I think not! Votefornoneoftheabove
  • Score: 19

2:51pm Tue 25 Feb 14

BassalegCountyFan says...

tory opposition to living wage is yet more proof that they are a party stuck in the past
tory opposition to living wage is yet more proof that they are a party stuck in the past BassalegCountyFan
  • Score: 0

3:53pm Tue 25 Feb 14

GardenVarietyMushroom says...

BassalegCountyFan wrote:
tory opposition to living wage is yet more proof that they are a party stuck in the past
Now come on, be reasonable. If the tories were to pay a living wage, then they'd just have to milk more from the benefits system. They're doing us a favour and keeping taxes low. Besides, those peerages and castles don't pay for themselves you know.
[quote][p][bold]BassalegCountyFan[/bold] wrote: tory opposition to living wage is yet more proof that they are a party stuck in the past[/p][/quote]Now come on, be reasonable. If the tories were to pay a living wage, then they'd just have to milk more from the benefits system. They're doing us a favour and keeping taxes low. Besides, those peerages and castles don't pay for themselves you know. GardenVarietyMushroom
  • Score: 1

5:23pm Tue 25 Feb 14

peckylecky says...

What planet are the labour council on .I have just been told I will not get a pay increase for the next 4 years , making it ten years in total yet in hardened times and ever increasing council tax hikes they want me to dig even deeper to fulfil a give away labour budget. I hate everything labour stands for, council workers already get premium pay for overtime and paid sick leave and a generous holiday entitlement , how about a new rolls royce each as well!
What planet are the labour council on .I have just been told I will not get a pay increase for the next 4 years , making it ten years in total yet in hardened times and ever increasing council tax hikes they want me to dig even deeper to fulfil a give away labour budget. I hate everything labour stands for, council workers already get premium pay for overtime and paid sick leave and a generous holiday entitlement , how about a new rolls royce each as well! peckylecky
  • Score: 1

6:27pm Tue 25 Feb 14

Bobevans says...

So as expected cuts to front line services a near 5% increase in Council tax and Councillors allowance increased

No signs of any real improvements in efficiency from Newport Council no shared services and joint working. Just more of the same

Vote for donkeys and you get donkeys
So as expected cuts to front line services a near 5% increase in Council tax and Councillors allowance increased No signs of any real improvements in efficiency from Newport Council no shared services and joint working. Just more of the same Vote for donkeys and you get donkeys Bobevans
  • Score: 4

7:26pm Tue 25 Feb 14

blackandamber says...

Why do we need 50 councillors in Newport. Why do we need party political councillors. Shouldn't councillors want what is best for their city because they are citizens of that city not spout their political dogma. Iv'e lived in this city all of my life over sixty years and the only time I have ever met one. Let us start by having a few new rules. No more than two councillors per ward. The councillor MUST permanently live in the ward he represents. And thirdly a councillor can only serve two terms in office before standing down if it's good enough for the President of the US it should be good enough for a local councillor.
Why do we need 50 councillors in Newport. Why do we need party political councillors. Shouldn't councillors want what is best for their city because they are citizens of that city not spout their political dogma. Iv'e lived in this city all of my life over sixty years and the only time I have ever met one. Let us start by having a few new rules. No more than two councillors per ward. The councillor MUST permanently live in the ward he represents. And thirdly a councillor can only serve two terms in office before standing down if it's good enough for the President of the US it should be good enough for a local councillor. blackandamber
  • Score: 3

12:45pm Wed 26 Feb 14

BobEvams2014 says...

peckylecky wrote:
What planet are the labour council on .I have just been told I will not get a pay increase for the next 4 years , making it ten years in total yet in hardened times and ever increasing council tax hikes they want me to dig even deeper to fulfil a give away labour budget. I hate everything labour stands for, council workers already get premium pay for overtime and paid sick leave and a generous holiday entitlement , how about a new rolls royce each as well!
Quite right , all Council workers must work up 20 hrs UNPAID overtime on demand from members of the public, all annual leave to be unpaid, all pensions reclaimed from existing pensioners, one days sick and instant sacking regardless of whatever 'illness' ,also its time local Government seeked exemption from this Minimum Wage rubbish, so realistic pay levels can be set.
[quote][p][bold]peckylecky[/bold] wrote: What planet are the labour council on .I have just been told I will not get a pay increase for the next 4 years , making it ten years in total yet in hardened times and ever increasing council tax hikes they want me to dig even deeper to fulfil a give away labour budget. I hate everything labour stands for, council workers already get premium pay for overtime and paid sick leave and a generous holiday entitlement , how about a new rolls royce each as well![/p][/quote]Quite right , all Council workers must work up 20 hrs UNPAID overtime on demand from members of the public, all annual leave to be unpaid, all pensions reclaimed from existing pensioners, one days sick and instant sacking regardless of whatever 'illness' ,also its time local Government seeked exemption from this Minimum Wage rubbish, so realistic pay levels can be set. BobEvams2014
  • Score: 0

12:50pm Wed 26 Feb 14

BobEvams2014 says...

blackandamber wrote:
Why do we need 50 councillors in Newport. Why do we need party political councillors. Shouldn't councillors want what is best for their city because they are citizens of that city not spout their political dogma. Iv'e lived in this city all of my life over sixty years and the only time I have ever met one. Let us start by having a few new rules. No more than two councillors per ward. The councillor MUST permanently live in the ward he represents. And thirdly a councillor can only serve two terms in office before standing down if it's good enough for the President of the US it should be good enough for a local councillor.
Indeed the ward boundaries should be redrawn and the Councillors cut to 10. Alt - yr -rn , Graig, Llangstone and LLanwern should have 2 Councillors each the rest of Newport 2 between them.
[quote][p][bold]blackandamber[/bold] wrote: Why do we need 50 councillors in Newport. Why do we need party political councillors. Shouldn't councillors want what is best for their city because they are citizens of that city not spout their political dogma. Iv'e lived in this city all of my life over sixty years and the only time I have ever met one. Let us start by having a few new rules. No more than two councillors per ward. The councillor MUST permanently live in the ward he represents. And thirdly a councillor can only serve two terms in office before standing down if it's good enough for the President of the US it should be good enough for a local councillor.[/p][/quote]Indeed the ward boundaries should be redrawn and the Councillors cut to 10. Alt - yr -rn , Graig, Llangstone and LLanwern should have 2 Councillors each the rest of Newport 2 between them. BobEvams2014
  • Score: 0

12:59pm Wed 26 Feb 14

whatintheworld says...

peckylecky wrote:
What planet are the labour council on .I have just been told I will not get a pay increase for the next 4 years , making it ten years in total yet in hardened times and ever increasing council tax hikes they want me to dig even deeper to fulfil a give away labour budget. I hate everything labour stands for, council workers already get premium pay for overtime and paid sick leave and a generous holiday entitlement , how about a new rolls royce each as well!
this is the wrong attitude.

you should be asking why your company is not paying you properly, rather than hoping public sector workers are brought down
[quote][p][bold]peckylecky[/bold] wrote: What planet are the labour council on .I have just been told I will not get a pay increase for the next 4 years , making it ten years in total yet in hardened times and ever increasing council tax hikes they want me to dig even deeper to fulfil a give away labour budget. I hate everything labour stands for, council workers already get premium pay for overtime and paid sick leave and a generous holiday entitlement , how about a new rolls royce each as well![/p][/quote]this is the wrong attitude. you should be asking why your company is not paying you properly, rather than hoping public sector workers are brought down whatintheworld
  • Score: 3

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