Wales politics

Assembly Commission staffing costs up 90% in a decade

Assembly
Image caption Assembly Commission staff ensure the assembly and its committees can convene

Staffing costs at the body which runs the Welsh Assembly have increased by almost 90% since its establishment a decade ago.

The Assembly Commission's staffing costs have risen from £10.5m in 2007/08 to £19.8m in the last financial year.

One campaigner said Welsh taxpayers would be "appalled" by the increase.

An assembly spokeswoman said the commission had "increased its staffing levels proportionately".

Staff numbers at the commission, including agency and seconded staff, also increased 44% from 312 to 448 full time equivalent.

In comparison, the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body employs around 450 staff, while the number employed by the House of Commons is around 1,776.

The figures cover the people that ensure the assembly and its committees can convene and who encourage public awareness of and engagement with the assembly.

It does not include the costs of assembly members and their staff.

Image caption The assembly commission was set up to manage the institution in 2007

Rachel Banner, who led the 2011 referendum campaign against increasing the assembly's powers, said "many Welsh taxpayers who are struggling to make ends meet will be appalled" by the increase.

The Abolish the Welsh Assembly Party said the costs were "out of control" and it was "appalling" so much was being spent while the NHS and schools were under pressure.

The commission was set up in May 2007 under a change to the law that made the Welsh Government separate from the assembly.

An assembly spokeswoman said: "Since 2007, the National Assembly has gained significant powers and responsibilities, including primary law-making powers, and powers over taxation.

"While the number of AMs has stayed the same their responsibilities have grown and the commission has increased its staffing levels proportionately, to ensure that the support provided to AMs continues to adapt to meet the assembly's needs".

She added: "We have also needed to expand our security service in response to increasing threat levels and by bringing our ICT services in-house, we have increased the head count, but the costs of running and supporting our systems have significantly decreased.

"Every request for additional resources is looked at very carefully, and delivered within our agreed annual budget."

Image caption Rachel Banner has criticised the cost of the staff

During 2016/17, the commission - which is chaired by the presiding officer Elin Jones and includes four other assembly members nominated by the main political parties - had a budget of £54.4m.

This included £15.5m for the pay of the 60 AMs, their support staff and the costs of running their constituency offices; £36.5m on the assembly's property, staff and services; and £2.5m ring-fenced for the 2016 assembly election.

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