VOTERS might blame prospective councillors for a huge pay rise coming their way when they knock on doors ahead of next year’s elections, a councillor has warned.

A body called the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales (IRPW) has recommended that councillors in Wales get a £16,800 basic salary from May next year – a rise of 16.9 per cent from the current £14,368.

Wales’ 22 councils have been providing feedback before the IRPW publishes its final report early next year.

READ MORE: Wrexham to discuss £2,400 a year councillor pay rise 

At a meeting of Carmarthenshire Council's democratic services committee Cllr Tyssul Evans said the planned hike wouldn’t look good when he and others began knocking on doors next April.

“People will be saying: ‘You are feathering your own nest,’ if you like, and we won’t be making that decision,” he said. “It’s not our decision to make.”

The pay rates would take effect on May 9, after the local government elections.

Cllr Emlyn Schiavone said he opposed the “ridiculous” increase when constituents and carers struggled on a low income.

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A pay rise in line with inflation, he said, would be reasonable.

The meeting heard that councillors could decide not to take the increase, assuming it is implemented.

But Linda Rees Jones, the council’s head of administration and law, said the IRPW was keen that councillors accepted everything due to them and that it tied in with a campaign to make council membership more diverse.

READ MORE: Proposed councillor pay-rise for Conwy labelled ‘obscene’

The Carmarthenshire committee will respond to the IRPW to say a pay rise in line with inflation would be sufficient.

The draft IRPW report said councillors in Wales were undervalued and that their pay had not kept pace with the rest of society since 2009.

During this period, it said, decision-making and governance had become more complex.

The report said councillors in Scotland received £18,604 per year year and that there were examples in England where councillors were paid significantly more than their Welsh counterparts.

Councillors’ pay is based on a three-day working week. In 2009 their salary was set at three-fifths of the average earnings of full-time male employees in Wales.

That link, said the IRPW, has steadily been broken. The planned £16,800 rate would restore it.

READ MORE: Burnout: Why work in Wales doesn't pay

The IRPW proposals would also result in council leaders receiving a 14 per cent pay rise, from £55,027 to £63,000. The panel said the role of a council leader was complex and carried a high level of responsibility.

“The panel is very concerned that the current payment levels (for leaders) are often financially unattractive and are seen as a barrier to participation,” said the report.

The IRPW proposals have been discussed by Swansea Council’s democratic services committee. Councillors expressed unease about the large pay increase but one of them, Cllr Nick Davies, said the role should not only be for people who could afford to do it, “in other words a retirement hobby for middle-class people who are comfortable”.

The IRPW said it could amend its pay proposals for the final version of the report.

However the body’s chairman John Bader said the £16,800 salary proposed was the equivalent of £13 per hour, based on an average three-day week.

Mr Bader said: “Many councillors work more than three days on council business and for some the hourly rate could be as low as £9.25.”

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