Saturday, 13 July 2019

We don't vote for AM's and their spouses.

I suppose that I wouldn't be completely opposed to  Welsh Assembly members giving jobs to their family members om the occasion that that were qualified and had an intimate knowledge of the consistency.

But it seems that it has been highly abused 

A WalesOnline investigation has found that over the past decade around £3.5m has been paid to the family members of AMs from the public purse.

The investigation, which followed a story in May on which AMs employ family members, also found the practice has become significantly more common in recent years.
What did the investigation show?
A series of Freedom of Information (fOI) requests and information in the public domain demonstrates:
There are currently 17 Assembly Members employing their own or other members families.
Four of those AMs are paying their own husband/wife in the highest possible wage band.
In the last decade, the number of family members employed by AMs with public funds has risen 400%.
Until now, the Welsh Assembly has been less transparent than Westminster on the employment family members.
Several million pounds has been spent in the last decade  employing the family of AMs at the publics expense.
Four AMs employ two people from their own (or another member's family).
One party employs as many family members as it has AMs in the Assembly.
Which AMs are paying their family the most?
Four Assembly Members are employing their husband or wife in the highest possible wage band from the public purse.
This means their spouses are paid between £33,542 and £40,972 year.
Which AMs are paying their family the most?
Four Assembly Members are employing their husband or wife in the highest possible wage band from the public purse.
This means their spouses are paid between £33,542 and £40,972 year.
The four are:
Mark Reckless AM - Leader of The Brexit Party in the Welsh Assembly
Now in his third political party, Mr Reckless has employed his wife Catorina Reckless as a senior advisor for 37 hours (previously 29.6) a week, earning up to £40,972 since December 2016.Caroline Jones AM - Brexit Party
She has employed her husband Alun Williams as a community caseworker earning up to £40,972 for 37.5 hours a week since 2017.
Dawn Bowden AM - Labour
Ms Bowden has employed her husband Martin Eaglestone as a senior advisor on 37 hours a week, earning up to £40,972 since September 2017.Neil Hamilton AM - UKIP
Mr Hamilton has employed his wife Christine Hamilton as a senior advisor (previously PA) for 37 hours a week, earning up to £40,972 since May 2016.

Many more AMs are hiring family members compared to 10 years ago
The number of AMs choosing to pay their family from the public purse has increased several times over in the last decade.
In 2008 there was as few as five family members employed by AMs. By 2018 that had risen to 21.
This graph shows the increase:

Flourish logoA Flourish data visualisationHow did we work out these figures?
The figures came from a freedom of information request.
It is has proved impossible to get an exact figure because in response to our FOI the Welsh Assembly would only give us the amount of staff in each band. This means that if a member of staff moved between bands over the year they would be counted twice.
Also, if there were less than three people in a band they would just say "less than three". This was "due to GDPR". This means that in 2008, the best we can say is that between five and seven family members were employed by AMs. The only years this affects are the early ones as there are now more than three family members employed in all bands.
In the bar chart we have used the maximum figures and the trend is clearly in one direction. We have included this explainer for tranparency.
Which parties are the worst offenders?
Of all the parties in the Assembly the party with the highest percentage of its AMs choosing to employ their family is the Brexit Party.
Three of their four AMs employ family members all in the highest or second highest wage bands.
The Brexit Party's David Rowlands AM employs both his wife and daughter. Freemason Rowlands had previously left his daughter off the list of employees and subsequently blamed one of his aides for the oversight.
This means that the Brexit Party employ as many family members as they have AMs.
More than half of the Tory AMs in the Assembly employ family members.
Both the current leader Paul Davies and the previous leader Andrew RT Davies employ members of AMs' families.
Paul Davies employs two members of other members' families and RT Davies employs his wife Julia on a band one salary (up to £35,182). She has been in the post since 2007.
One of UKIP's two AMs, Mr Hamilton, employs family members.
Labour AMs employ more family members that any other party with eight - however this is a much smaller figure relative to the total number of AMs the party has (29).
Plaid Cymru has a rule that no Plaid AM can employ a family member. This lost them an AM in 2009 when Mohammad Asghar defected from them to the Tories after he was told he could not employ his daughter as a press officer.
You can see the full details here  

Considering  that a number of politicians end up having affairs with a member of staff, you may well see a spouse wanting to be around their husband and wife to keep an eye on them.

In the past they have learned a lot from working in a legislature that they are prime candidates for replacing thier spouse if he or she unfortunately passed away.

It could be argued that it is discrimination to forbid such practices and in the case of an unwed partner proving a relationship may well be difficult.

But it is clear that some AM's are cheerfully abusing the system and given that for example post Brexit both Mr Hamilton(Ukip) and Rowlands (Brexit Party) may well have come to the conclusion that they time in the Assembly is short .

Obviously this does not mean they are seeking to earn as much as they can before they and their spouses find themselves on the Job Market.

But to remove this then  the argument that  no funding will be made available for new family members who are employed by AMs from April 1, 2019.which means that AMs are not able to hire new family members now but those already in place can stay in post should change and the practice banned completely.

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