MPs condemn MPs’ pay rise

MPs of all sides are objecting to IPSA proposals to increase their pay by 11%, alongside some less-reported minor cuts to expenses and a move to a career-average pension scheme, that make the whole package, we are told, cost-neutral.

Danny Alexander has called the rise “wholly inappropriate”:

I think most people will find it utterly incomprehensible that a time of pay restraint for the public sector and further squeezes on Government spending that IPSA should be recommending [a pay rise]. I think it would be wholly inappropriate to get such a large pay rise when every other public sector worker sees pay rises capped at one per cent.

This is also reported by the BBC and Guardian.

Danny joins a number of MPs saying that he won’t accept the pay rise, but it remains to be seen how well any of this will wash with the public. Nobody is calling for MPs salaries to be brought back in-house, and the consequence of choosing not to have a say over your own salary is that you don’t have a say.

And finally, the Daily Mail has a go at IPSA for the 6 figure salaries of some of its bosses, including in one case an off-payroll deal. Perhaps there is a suggestion that had the suits at IPSA been paid less, they might not have recommended a raise for MPs.

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17 Comments

  • Mark Reckons (no longer of this parish) has a very good blog post on this: http://markreckons.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/mps-should-have-their-pay-rise-oh-and.html

  • Clearly a payrise for MPs would be egregious. since ipsa has found considerable scope for savings on their pensions then they should implement them (with effect – and retrospectively as for everyone else if we really are all in this together) .

  • Robert Wootton 9th Dec '13 - 1:37pm

    What I advocate is that ALL elected people, councillors at all levels, MPs and MEPs should be paid a wage and also be classed by HMRC as a new type of “sole trader” or self employment; a “public sole trader” A PST that like a PLC would be required to publish annual audited accounts. The expenses that could be set against the income must be “wholly and necessarily incurred for the carrying out of their business” and approved and agreed by HMRC.

    Of course legislation for this along with all the other structural requirements of a fair and just economic system would be required.

  • @Joe
    Hear hear. Nice to be in agreement!

  • Whilst the timing sucks MPs should have a payrise and a much bigger payrise than suggested. I wouldn’t be unhappy with MPs earning £100,000.

    Colin
    @colinross1975

  • I don’t see how this rise can be justified given the trend of wages over the past 5 years, but….. how right it is that it’s not up to them. As a councillor, we have to vote on our allowances every year, taking heed of the views of an independent panel (or not as we choose.) Why should it be up to us? MPs were stripped of their power during the expenses scandal, but in setting up IPSA this moment was always likely to come. I agree with those who say MPs pay should be tracked to a national indicator (median income is fairest in my view) but councillors setting their own pay is still a scandal and that right should be taken away from them. Either to a local citizens jury, or to a similar body to IPSA who can make local determinations where appropriate.

    I’ve always refused to vote on councillor allowances on principle, a lonely position! A shame this doesn’t get wider attention as a minority of councillors do next to nothing for their allowances, while others work night and day.

  • John Roffey 9th Dec '13 - 2:57pm

    @ Colin Ross

    Whilst it peeves me to agree, the danger of not paying a competitive salary for MPs is that the only ones who will be able to consider becoming an MP will be those of independent means – as we have generally from the Tories in the Cabinet at present.

    Many able individuals – not of independent means – whose sympathies lie more to the left who are considering a career in politics will have to think long and hard about following a career that pays such a poor salary.

    £100k is not a huge salary these days for someone who is trained in one of the more wanted professions. These individuals presently have to consider if they can justify obliging their families to live on such a relatively low salary so that they can follow their chosen career.

    This problem is much great for the left than the right and I think is demonstrated by the absence of talent coming through the Labour Party.

  • Relatively low salary? The current rate of pay for MPs is 220% of the median in this country and puts them in the top 5% of earners. It might not be as high as some jobs but is not relatively low and if it stands at higher than 95% of the population it surely doesn’t count as a deterrent to talent.

    The notion that MPs would otherwise be more wealthy with alternative career choices is a fallacy. The MP in the consituency where I live was previously an officer of a Housing Association , in neighbouring constituencies they were a captain in the army, a conveyancy solicitor and a political adviser – none of whome would have been on salaries approaching 70k let alone 100k (with the possible exception of the solicitor) . Would Danny have been earning as much as a press officer or Tim in his University post?

    Secondly the comparison is often made with headteachers or chief execs. Why should MPs all be on such terms. These are people with considerable qualifications and experience rising through their professions/industries based on years of graft and merit. I’m not suggesting that all MPs are without such skills but it should hardly be taken as a given.

    Finally surely we are talking about public service. Do we only want those attracted by considerable renumeration? If ‘its a vocation’ is sufficient reason not to pay nurses or teachers more than the cap should also fit for MPs.

  • Eddie Sammon 9th Dec '13 - 9:51pm

    I’m not bothered about the pay rise, the only thing I don’t want is for MPs to be paying work expenses out of their own pocket. Now, as I have mentioned in the past, there is a problem with this: most private sector employees and the self employed don’t get all their expenses paid for and for some of them they can’t even claim their tax back, so this creates expenses envy.

    I see the solution being to extend expenses through the tax system, a little bit like the childcare tax break, but through the self-assessment system, rather than like a financial product. This is a recommendation I submitted to the manifesto group and if we have to structure it like the childcare tax break for cost reasons then so be it. This could get cross party support.

  • Liberal Neil 9th Dec '13 - 11:11pm

    I completely agree with the post by ‘Simon’ above.

    Backbench MPs do not do the same job, have to demonstrate the same skills or experience or carry the same level of responsibility for staff or budgets as the heads of large secondary schools of chief execs of councils and there’s no reason why they should be paid as much.

    Like Simon I would peg MPs’ salaries to a multiple of either the Minimum Wage or average income, so that their income rises and falls with the rest of us.

    To the vast, vast majority of working people an MPs’ salary at its current level would be a large pay rise.

    As far as pensions are concerned, MPs should enjoy the same system as the majority of workers, a straightforward contributory system.

    John Roffey – an MPs’ salary is not ‘poor’ in any sense of the word, it is higher than 90% of people earn. £100K is an very high salary these days – it would put you in the top 2% of earners.

  • As a taxpayer I think IPSA has got this right and the fuss being made by senior politicians, including our own Nick Clegg, demonstrates why they should never have anything to do with this issue again.

    All three party leaders persistently tell us that they are the ones who can make the ‘difficult’ decisions that need to be made. Well this is one difficult decision they have well and truly flunked and leaning on IPSA to make a political decision on their behalf is an act of cowardice.

    I had hoped that Nick Clegg could have lead from the front on this and said quite honestly to voters that MPs’ salaries and expenses had been a mess of their own making and needed sorting out once and for all. Yes it’s going to be momentarily unpopular but then the right policy often is.

    Now at the next election we will have the unedifying spectacle of tabloid newspapers lining up to get candidates to sign pledges, we all remember those don’t we, that if elected they won’t accept the pay rise but give it to charity. Then for the duration of the following parliament we will be treated to lurid headlines as one by one MPs who have signed the pledge fall off the wagon.

    One interesting point made on the Newsnight programme last evening was that of course it may well be different for sitting MPs in ‘safe seats’ as they could easily afford to lose perhaps a few hundred votes over the issue and take the pay rise while those in marginals couldn’t.

  • Andrew Colman 10th Dec '13 - 10:47am

    As a public sector worker , my pay is been frozen for 2 years and is being limited to 1% increase for 3 years whatever work I do ore however I perform ., Why does this not apply to MPs, they are public sector workers, in full time jobs paid for entirely by the taxpayer. If we truly are in economic distress, the public sector pay freeze should apply to MPs as well. Their pay review system should be suspended until the pay freeze is “officially” ovedr!

  • Andrew Colman 10th Dec '13 - 12:19pm

    Following my last comment

    The answer is to scrap the “public sector pay freeze” and make it a guideline instead. The public sector pay freeze is a political dogma motivated distortion in the labour market which will become increasingly damaging if left to continue.

    It was reasonable for a year or two at the height of the crisis, but it now should be scrapped before long term damage is done eg public services lose the most skilled people.

  • Matthew Huntbach 10th Dec '13 - 11:39pm

    Liberal Neil

    To the vast, vast majority of working people an MPs’ salary at its current level would be a large pay rise.

    It would be a 50% pay increase from my current job as a university lecturer. But if I gave up that job to become an MP, I wouldn’t be able to get back into it – once you lose track with research development in your subject, that’s it. And I wouldn’t be able to go for all those cozy consultancy jobs that some former MPs get – because my opinions are somewhat too left wing for that.

    MPs work long hours, outside normal working hours. And the possibility of losing the job because you lose the next election is very high – especially if you’re a LibDem and not a Labour or Tory MP in one of their ultra-safe seats.

    To be frank, I wouldn’t want to give up my job and its pay to be an MP for the pay MPs get, it would not be worth it for all the reasons mentioned above.

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