Stormont MLAs have 84 job titles for staff said Independent Review

stormont The Independent Financial Review Panel said expenditure on staff did not represent value for money

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MLAs have 84 different job titles for their support staff, according to the independent body that sets pay and expenses for Stormont politicians.

The Independent Financial Review Panel report said hourly pay rates differed by more than 400% in some cases.

It said personal assistants could earn hourly rates anywhere between £6.35 and £33.75.

It has called on MLAs to employ staff on the "basis of merit".

The panel begun a consultation on the employment of support staff for assembly members.

Among the proposals are recruitment on merit through a central process.

The panel has also proposed requiring MLAs to not only declare relatives, but also a relative of a party colleague.

Since 2012, MLAs have been allowed to employ one person connected to them, but the panel has noted that some are now employing family members of other MLAs. In future, it says, this should be declared in the Register of Interests.

The independent review panel said staff were selected by MLAs without a recognised recruitment process.

The panel concluded that expenditure on staff did not represent value for money. It also found a wide range of salaries for posts that appear to be similar.

The body has proposed staff bonuses should end as they are divisive and may result in unequal treatment of staff.

The panel was established by the Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 to make determinations in relation to the salaries, allowances and pensions payable to members of the assembly.

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