Scotland Democracy, devolution and governance, Finance

Councillor remuneration in Scotland

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Image: Daniel Heighton via istock

Councillors’ pay goes under the spotlight in a landmark report published in Scotland.

The Scottish Local Authorities Remuneration Committee (SLARC) was reconvened in April 2023 following a decade-long gap to review payments to Scotland’s councillors and recommend ways of removing barriers to public office. Over the past 10 months, the committee has engaged extensively with Scottish councils to gain insights into the role of modern-day councillors and how this has changed over the past decade.

It set out to review the changing nature of a councillor’s role in Scotland, assess whether it was now more complex than before, and understand how councillors’ experiences have changed in light of new legislation and broader societal changes, such as the growth in social media. As well as looking at how councillors’ roles have changed, the committee considered how key population groups may be excluded from public office and what steps can be taken to address this.

Committee convener, Angela Leitch said,

“It was vitally important that our recommendations should be informed by the direct experiences of Scotland’s councillors. We did this through a comprehensive survey sent out to every councillor in the country, a review of councils’ governance systems, and around 40 follow up engagement sessions with councillors and Chief Officers.”

The committee found that women, young people, and people with a disability are under-represented in council chambers. They noted that the role had become more complex over the past decade and is more demanding than many candidates expected prior to their election. They concluded that senior roles are more likely to require a full-time commitment, while other roles can be done on a part-time basis.

The report found that most councillors had experienced personal criticism via social media, and this had created many more demands on their time. It went on to describe how the role of councillors and the scale of their responsibilities are not well understood.

The committee’s report sets out 22 recommendations and these will now be considered by Scottish Ministers and COSLA. The committee’s report is available here



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