‘Proper pay needed for councillors’, say local government leaders

The current salary for a councillor is £18,604.

‘Proper pay needed for councillors’, say local government leaders iStock

Councillors’ pay “does not cut the mustard”, the Scottish Government has been told, with local authority chiefs demanding ministers take a “realistic look” at their wages.

Leaders at Cosla, which represents Scotland’s 32 local councils, said the amount councillors are paid should be brought in line with the Real Living Wage.

With council elections taking place across Scotland in May, research by Cosla found financial barriers were cited as one reason why several female councillors are not standing for re-election, or considering not running again.

The current salary for a councillor is £18,604, with elected representatives working on average 38.6 hours a week in their role – the equivalent of a full time job.

More than two fifths (43%) of councillors who took part in Cosla’s survey reported having a second job – working an average of 24.8 hours per week at this.

Cosla said its research “highlighted the insufficiency of current remuneration for the responsibilities of the modern councillor” and also “emphasised the necessity for councillors to have an additional source of income”.

It complained the current salary was less than the Real Living Wage of £9.90 an hour – which equates to an annual salary of £19,562 for a 38-hour week.

Meanwhile, MSPs earn an annual salary of £66,662.

Colsa’s survey, which 439 took part in – 36% of all elected councillors – highlighted the “difficulties in balancing the workload of a councillor alongside a second paid job that is vital for financial wellbeing”, the local government body said.

And Evison insisted: “The time has come for a realistic look at the remuneration for the role of a councillor.

“In less than five months, on May 5, Scotland once again goes to the polls to elect the representatives who are the closest to their communities – their local councillors.”

She added that the councillor remuneration survey provides a “pivotal opportunity to think about the kind of modern councillor we want, and about the changes that we need to make to attract candidates who could make a real difference to communities across the country”.

Evison stated: “Together with my elected member colleagues, I already passionately believe in local democracy as a real positive force for good within our communities – that is why we stand for election.

“However, to meet the next challenge we need realistic and proper remuneration that better reflects the role of a modern day councillor.

“All of us within Scottish local government want to harness the power of a more locally democratic way of doing things, to enable a more diverse range of voices at the decision-making table, and to overhaul participation in council policy-making across the country – but people need to be properly remunerated to make this rhetoric a reality.”

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