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Frequently asked questions:

This FAQ document is divided into two sections:

FAQs on Members' allowance

FAQs on the Allowance Publication System

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Members’ allowances

Who are the Party Leaders?

The National Assembly for Wales currently comprises of four main political parties. They are:

  • The Welsh Conservative Party – the party leader is Andrew RT Davies AM

  • The Welsh Labour Party – the party leader and First Minister is Carwyn Jones AM

  • UKIP Wales Party - the party leader is Neil Hamilton AM

  • Plaid Cymru – the party leader is Leanne Wood AM

 

Why do Assembly Members need allowances?

Assembly Members receive a salary to pay them for their role as democratically elected representatives, but they will also inevitably incur expenses for which they are entitled to be reimbursed. The Assembly gives them access to resources to employ staff and run offices in their constituencies, so that they can deal with issues and cases raised by the people they represent. This also includes paying necessarily incurred expenses as a result of travelling to the Assembly in Cardiff as well as the costs of any overnight stays whilst on Assembly business.

 

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Who determines the rate of allowances?

Previously, the Assembly Commission agreed the limits of salaries and allowances payable to Assembly Members and formulated these rules into a document called ‘The Determination’.

However, the appointment of the Wales Remuneration Board in September 2010 now means that all aspects of financial support for Members are determined by an independent body.

The Determination is revised on an Annual (sometimes bi-annual) basis which is why some claims which may have been permissible in previous financial years are no longer permissible.

 

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What are the origins of the Remuneration Board?

The National Assembly for Wales Commission decided in the autumn of 2007 to seek recommendations on the Salaries, Pensions and Allowances available to Assembly Members (AMs) from a Panel of four independent people and one Assembly Commissioner (non-voting). The Review Panel has published reports setting out its findings and recommendations, with reasons, in relation to salaries and allowances.

The Panel made several recommendations, including conducting: "…a fundamental examination of the pay and system of financial support for Members under the developing devolution settlement. This will allow for further experience of the new powers of the Assembly as they develop to inform the review, and for a new approach to be adopted, tailored for the Assembly, which has the advantages of effectiveness, clarity, transparency and simplicity.”

The Commission, therefore, established a further Independent Review Panel in August 2008 in order to implement this recommendation. The Panel’s remit was to examine all aspects of financial support for Assembly Members, including pay and allowances for travel, accommodation, constituency offices and support staff.

In July 2009, the Panel published the ‘Getting It Right for Wales’ Report which contained 108 Recommendations relating to the pay and allowances of Members. The Assembly Commission immediately endorsed the recommendations, one of which (Recommendation 12) was to establish a statutory Independent Review Body (the Wales Remuneration Board) to make decisions about financial support for Members.

The Assembly passed The National Assembly for Wales (Remuneration) Measure in July 2010.

 

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What is the remit of the Remuneration Board?

The role of the Board is to:

  • Make decisions on all aspects of financial support for Assembly Members

  • Take account of changing responsibilities in the work of Assembly Members

  • Review the effectiveness and impact of uprating process

  • Deal with any ‘ad hoc’ issues

Members of the Body are completely independent of the Assembly.

 

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Who determines what a legitimate claim is?

In the first instance, the Members’ Business Support Team processes all claims and will query anything that is inconsistent with The Determination. Any decision of entitlement of an allowance may be escalated to the Chief Executive and Clerk to the National Assembly for Wales and ultimately, can be referred to the Remuneration Board who are the final arbiter on all matters of financial support for Members.

All claims should be presented with adequate receipts and should be wholly necessary to allow the Assembly Member to fulfil their Assembly duties.

 

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What allowances can Members currently claim?

Members are entitled to a number of allowances all of which are detailed in the Determination on Members’ Pay and Allowances. Claims must be receipted. Such examples of allowances Members’ can claim include:

Office Cost Allowance

Members are entitled to claim an allowance to cover the costs of furnishing and maintaining an office to assist them in their work as an Assembly Member

Residential Accommodation Allowance

Members can claim an allowance for expenses occurred whilst staying overnight, away from their main home for the purpose of performing their duties as an Assembly Member.

  • Members whose main homes are located in the inner area may apply to MBS, in exceptional circumstances, for reimbursement of the cost of hotel stays in Cardiff;

  • Members whose main homes are located within the intermediate area are entitled to claim up to £3,420 for overnight stays in Cardiff each year;

  • Members whose main homes are located within the outer area are entitled to claim up to £775 per month (£9,300 per year) to meet rental costs associated with finding suitable, furnished Cardiff accommodation.

Members whose main homes are located in the outer area may also be reimbursed costs relating to council tax (no higher than Band F), utility bills, broadband subscription, television licence, insurance and any necessary enhanced security precautions to minimise specific risks to the security of a Member, in addition to the £775 per month rental cap.

Travel Cost Allowance:

Members are able to claim for travel expenses occurred whilst on Assembly business. Members are expected to travel by the most cost effective means, taking into account the actual cost of travel and the cost of any overnight stay.

Staffing Expenditure Allowance:

Assembly Members may also claim a staffing allowance. However, as this information contains salary details for Assembly Member staff we are unable to publish details per staff member due to Data Protection rules.

 

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Travel Reimbursement: What is the difference between Regular and Non Regular Journeys?

A journey will be treated as regular if it is made from and to the same destination, on a number of occasions within a financial year. Often, this will be repeat journeys from the Assembly in Cardiff to the Member’s home constituencies or Assembly business elsewhere (e.g. journeys within the Member’s constituency). We are legally obliged not to release this information due to potential security risks.

A journey will not be regular if it fails to fall within the above description, in which case, details of the journey will be disclosed.

 

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What are the rules surrounding ‘Second Homes’?

Since May 2011, Members whose main homes are located in the outer area are entitled to suitable, furnished Cardiff accommodation to a maximum rental cap of £775 per month (£9,300 per annum).

Please note transitional arrangements apply to those Members who prior to 2011 had second home mortgage interest arrangements.  

Members may not claim for furniture and fittings.

 

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Can Members’ ‘flip’ their homes?

No – whilst Members are allowed to claim for the cost of having to run a second home, this must be within five miles of the Assembly. Members cannot “flip” the second home designation between their Cardiff home and their constituency home.

 

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Are the Members allowances subject to tax?

Please note that different elements of Members’ Allowances are subject to different taxation provisions. Members are responsible for ensuring any taxable benefit they receive is declared.

 

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The Allowance Publication System

What can I search for on the Allowance Publication System?

The system can be used to search claims based on:

  • Year and/or month (leave the month options blank for total annual details)

  • Assembly Member (leave the options blank for results for all Assembly Members)

  • Allowance Type  (leave the options blank for the results of all allowance types)

  • Type of Expenditure (leave the options blank for the results of all expenditure expenses)

 

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Which financial years am I able to search?

The Allowance Publication System includes data from the 2008/2009 financial year onwards. Expenses are currently published three months in arrears (e.g. claims in May would be published in August etc.).

Expenses for the 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 financial years are not archived on the Allowance Publication System but can be accessed by clicking on the above links.

 

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Why can’t I see full details of each claim?

Where disclosure of details of a claim would involve disclosure of sensitive personal data or pose a potential security risk (e.g. information relating to home address, regular journey details or a medical condition) reference to the particulars have been omitted from the disclosure.

This is required under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 as amended by the Freedom of Information (Parliament and National Assembly for Wales) Order 2008.

 

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Are receipts for claims viewable?

Although Members’ claims for reimbursement must be submitted with relevant proof of receipts (and cannot be reimbursed without so), such evidence is not uploaded onto the Allowance Publication System.

 

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Why does an Assembly Member appear to have spent in excess of their Allowance Entitlement?

Prior to 2011 it was possible for Assembly Members to transfer money from one budget to another – this is called a ‘virement’. The strict rules surrounding what could be vired can be found in earlier versions of the Determination.

 

 

 

 

How are the figures audited?

The figures are subject to an annual review by the Wales Audit Office. This is to ensure that process, practices and procedures are accurate. Internal reconciliations also take place on a monthly basis to ensure data and financial integrity.

 

 

 

 

 

Who should I contact for further information?

In the first instance, the National Assembly for Wales Information line will be able to take any requests for further information and forward them to the relevant teams within the Assembly. However, members of the Press may contact our Press Office on 029 2089 8646 .

 

 

 

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