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Santeri Viinamäki, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Cash for tech for Councillors to be reviewed

THE amount of money available for councillors in Swansea to spend on laptops, data and phone bills is to be reviewed.

Councillors are doing more of their work online and need the equipment to do the job, a report before the council’s democratic services committee said.

There are 72 councillors, and currently their allowance for new equipment, such as a laptop or tablet, is £1,008 in the year after they are elected and £200 per year for the following four years. Receipts for new items must be provided along with a claim form.

Councillors’ monthly data allowance is £15 while their phone allowance is £10. A few senior councillors get a £25 a month mobile phone allowance.

The committee approved four recommendations in the report, which include a review of allowances by the council’s head of digital and customers services to ensure they were “adequate” beyond May’s local Government elections. Any fresh proposals would need to be ratified by full council.

More software training was another of the recommendations.

Santeri Viinamäki, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The report said printing costs had reduced significantly as more work and meetings were online, but that the IT needs of councillors had changed as a result.

“No longer can we expect a councillor to manage on one device over a five-year term,” said the report.

“Councillors may require two devices to participate in one formal committee, with one device used as the audio / video solution and the other for reading the agenda, minutes and reports.”

The report added that some councillors would prefer to use laptops or tablets provided by the council, although strict security settings would apply.

Councillors currently receive a salary of £14,368, but this could rise to £16,800 after May’s elections. The hike has been recommended by an independent panel which sets councillor salaries in Wales.

It said the salary had not kept pace with average wage growth across the working population for years.

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