Council insist pension plan not ‘inherently unlawful’ before meeting this Friday
12:35pm Monday 10th February 2014 in News
THE Wales Audit Office report which branded payments to council chief executive Bryn Parry-Jones and another senior officer unlawful will be discussed by members on Friday.
The Council will be asked to consider the report and its recommendations, and will receive detailed legal advice.
The Council will also be asked to take into account the WAO’s legal position, which the Auditor shared with the Authority last week.
A council spokesman said: “In that advice the Auditor clearly states that he is not suggesting that “a pay supplement of this type is intrinsically and necessarily unlawful.
“Further independent expert advice will be shared with Council demonstrating that the pensions facility offered to County Council staff is used in other public sector organisations in the health and university sectors.
“Additional evidence will be presented which shows that, rather than resulting in a disadvantage, independent actuarial experts have advised that there would be a positive financial benefit to the Authority.
“The advice received indicates that the arrangements could result in a marginal saving for the local authority’s pension fund, over and above the additional tax paid to the Inland Revenue.”
While there are lawful routes available this was not the route taken by Pembrokeshire Coutny Council, as outlined in the recent Wales Audit Office report.
It was also confirmed last week that the police is speaking to the Crown Prosecution Service about the payments.
Council Leader Jamie Adams said: “The Council is required to consider the Public Interest Report within one month of its receipt. It is important that Councillors have the opportunity to consider all the relevant evidence before deciding how best to respond to the Auditor’s recommendations.
“For example, one of the misunderstandings that has developed is that, as a result of this arrangement, two senior officers of the Council are receiving tax free pay supplements.
“That is simply not true. For officers who chose to remain in the Local Government Pension Scheme, employee and employer pension contributions are tax free.
“However, in electing to leave the scheme and make their own arrangements for retirement, the officers concerned are paying considerably more tax on a monthly basis than would otherwise be the case.
“Another misunderstanding that has arisen is that a criminal act has been committed. I understand that at a recent meeting with the Authority, the Auditor confirmed that he was not suggesting this was the case.”
Councillor Adams continued: “I am looking forward to the debate.
“It is of the utmost importance that Members do not allow a perception to arise that they had predetermined their position on these matters before seeing all the evidence that will be presented to Council.”
The meeting will be held at 10am in the council chamber at County Hall. It will also be broadcast online.