Councillors' remuneration and expenses: recommendations

Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee (SLARC) was reconvened in April 2023 to undertake an independent review of councillor remuneration, having last reported in 2011.

Banding of Councils

The Committee was asked to review the appropriateness of the current methodology for determining the banding of councils and whether the current bands allocated to councils remains accurate.

During the Council Engagement Sessions, we heard that some smaller councils believe the banding system is unfair as it has not kept pace with population changes. The current four band structure is based on various factors, including the size of the council budget. However, the original differences between bands were based on ‘estimated service expenditure’ rather than directly aligned with the size of the population served by the council. Bandings are not automatically adjusted to reflect significant changes in council budgets or population size and have not been reviewed since 2010. In our view, it would be prudent to review the bandings on a regular basis and specifically before each election cycle. R5

The table below shows the current bandings and corresponding payments with effect from 1/4/2023.

Table 1: Bandings of Councils
Council band Councils Salary of Leader Salary of Civic Head
A Clackmannanshire; East Lothian; East Renfrewshire; Eilean Siar; Inverclyde; Midlothian; Moray; Orkney Islands; Shetland Islands; Stirling £33,503 £25,128
B Angus; Argyll and Bute; Dumfries and Galloway; Dundee City; East Ayrshire; East Dunbartonshire; Falkirk; North Ayrshire; Perth and Kinross; Renfrewshire; Scottish Borders; South Ayrshire; West Dunbartonshire; West Lothian £40,205 £30,154
C Aberdeen City; Aberdeenshire; Fife; Highland; North Lanarkshire; South Lanarkshire £46,902 £35,179
D City of Edinburgh; Glasgow City £60,304 £45,228

Evidence from our engagement sessions indicated that neither population nor budget were considered to adequately reflect the range of factors impacting on the work of councillors. It was argued by some that all councils have the same responsibilities, for example, for regulatory functions and therefore there should be no banding. However, it was acknowledged by others that differences in population and budget do reflect actual differences in ‘scope and scale’ between councils.

The 2010 SLARC report recommended that councils should be split into 3 bandings for senior councillor remuneration levels to recognise that the roles, scale, and complexity of responsibilities of councillors in the Bands A and B are very similar.

We consider there remains a clear case for the bandings applied to councils to be altered. The Committee has concluded that Glasgow City Council and the City of Edinburgh Council should remain together in Band D, and that there should be no change to the councils in Band C. The 10 councils in Band A should be transferred to Band B as there is not, in our view, sufficient difference in the roles of Senior Councillors between Councils in these two bandings to justify the current differences in allowances paid to Leaders, Civic Heads and Senior Councillors. R4

Numbers of Senior Councillors

As described in the Governance section of this report, councils each have their own structures reflecting a range of local circumstances, and they configure the number and designation of Senior Councillor roles accordingly. In our Council Engagement sessions we heard it was considered important for councils to retain flexibility in determining how they configure their senior roles and how much they are paid.

In our evidence gathering the Committee learned of Senior Councillors in Band A being required to lead on more than one policy area because of an insufficient number of Senior Councillors. As a consequence, the workload for these individuals has increased. In view of this, and the information gathered from the Governance Survey, the Committee recommends the councils which currently have the capacity to appoint up to either eight or nine Senior Councillors have funding increased to enable them to appoint up to a maximum of 10 Senior Councillors. R3



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