Pressure to raise pay as councillors do more work for less money
Published 31/03/2016 | 02:30
Acting Environment Minister Alan Kelly is under growing pressure to increase pay for councillors - after a working group he established found local authority politicians are doing significantly more work for less money.
The working group's findings come as councillors are demanding a 40pc pay rise.
Changes to the local authority structure reduced the number of local authority politicians before the last local election.
Mr Kelly set up the Local Government Review Group last year to examine changes to the Local Government Act and it is understood the report has been completed.
The Irish Independent has learned the review found councillors' workload has significantly increased in the past two years due to the enlargement of their constituencies following the abolition of town and borough councils.
Mr Kelly is understood to be "sympathetic" to the plight of councillors, who are paid a €16,500 salary along with expenses. It is now expected the acting minister will bring the report before the next Cabinet meeting.
However, it is unclear if he will be able to sign off on pay increases for councillors as acting minister, with the Labour party not expected to form part of the next government.
It is also unclear whether the department's budget will allow for pay increases in these circumstances.
In January, the Department of the Environment presented the findings of a survey of councillors to the Association of Irish Local Government (AILG), which is understood to have highlighted the increased workloads faced by local politicians.
The conclusions of the survey also formed part of the findings of Mr Kelly's Local Government Review Working Group.
The review group consisted of current and former civil servants along with Padraig McNally of the AILG and Senator Denis Landy.
One of the issues raised by councillors is the fact they received very little social welfare benefits despite paying PRSI.
This is among the issues the working group hoped to address.
A recent survey of members by the AILG found councillors on average work 33.15 hours per week. This includes three-thirds of councillors who say they spend 10 or more hours a week attending council meetings and 68pc who say they spend the amount of time attending community events.
Councillors pay is linked to a quarter of a senator's salary and the AILG also wants to end this practice.