States to vote on annual pay rises
STATES members will be asked to decide whether they could receive annual pay rises during the next political term, costing the taxpayer an estimated £214,000.
An independent pay review panel recommended that States members’ pay should be fixed for the four-year term, but Deputies Mark Dorey and Michelle Le Clerc have put forward an amendment which calls for a salary adjustment each year based on median earnings, instead
of a big one-off increase in 2024.
This move would pull from the States coffers a predicted £35,000 during the second year, £71,000 in the third year, and £108,000 in the fourth year of the term.
The amendment goes against the recommendations of the pay review panel which found that fixing remuneration levels for the entire term would be consistent with business community practice for fixed-term contracts and supports the principles of fairness, transparency and making salaries administratively simple.
Along with recommending a fixed salary, the panel also suggested that there should be a link between States members’ pay and median earnings because this establishes a direct relationship between deputies and the people of Guernsey.
This would mean that politicians’ pay would very likely significantly rise in 2024 because it would include the increases in median earnings over the years 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023.
This one-off large increase would be similar to what happened in 2012 which resulted in much public and media criticism.
The amendment aims to head-off a repeat of that controversy which was damaging to the reputation of the Assembly.
It asks for remuneration to be automatically adjusted annually on May 1, based on any change in median earnings.
In the unlikely event of a negative change, the amendment asks for no adjustment to be made.
Another aspect of the amendment is that it calls for States members to be allowed to choose at the beginning of the political term whether they want their salary to remain fixed or connected to median earnings.
The pay review panel, which published its findings in July this year, has six main principles which underpin its work.
These fundamentals include the need for the deputies’ remuneration package to allow widespread participation by individuals of diverse age and experience, to not lead to participation for financial reasons alone, and to reflect an element of service to the community.
Back in 2003 the basic salary of a Guernsey politician was £9,987 plus allowances, and this was upgraded to try to attract a better calibre of candidate, and because the chamber was mainly made up of retired businessmen and it was felt this did not reflect the community.
The latest pay review panel also recommended that the banding system of States members’ pay should be changed to reflect workloads and accountability.
An intermediate band has been proposed for the presidents of three committees – the Development & Planning Authority, States’ Assembly & Constitution committee, Scrutiny Management Committee - and members of the Policy & Resources Committee.
The new bands represent an overall decrease in salaries of £12,000 per year across the total of 38 deputies and two Alderney representatives.
Top of the pay chart is the president of Policy & Resources with a proposed salary of £71,248 for the role which is considered to be full-time.
One particular issue that the panel considered noteworthy were the implications of island-wide voting in the 2020 election.
It is thought that this may lead to a larger field of candidates and a large number of new deputies, who may benefit from additional information on the responsibilities, duties and likely workload of a States member.
The panel also considered the issue of ‘parachute’ or severance payments, which would provide some financial assistance for members who failed to gain re-election.
However no recommendations were made on this because it was felt that electors might not want to view a candidate getting ‘paid’ after an election defeat.