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May 24, 2013 / politicsbitesize

A pay rise for MPs?

MPs‘We’re all in this together’ was the rallying cry of the Prime Minister days after the riots in August 2011.  But the idea that ‘we’ are ‘all’ in this ‘together’ has rightly been lambasted since it was first uttered.  It seems a little absurd for a multi-millionaire to be telling an economically squeezed country that the financial crisis has affected us ‘all’.  The farcical nature of this notion has been further highlighted by the recent tax avoidance scandals of big multi-nationals and compounded by calls from MPs for a 32% increase in their salaries.

In January 2013 the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) conducted an anonymous survey, which found that 69% of MPs thought that they were underpaid on their current salary of £65,738.  Since 2011, salaries have been frozen and in 2012 the freeze was extended until 2013.  However, in a report to be released next month, IPSA is expected to recommend an increase of between £10,000 and £20,000 in the annual pay packet of MPs.

If the IPSA recommendations are approved the rise is expected to come after the 2015 general election and a curb on pensions will be sought.  Currently MPs receive a guaranteed final salary pension that is capped at two-thirds of their wages and a 29% contribution from their employer (read, the tax payer).  A cut to pensions would bring them in line with the rest of the public sector, yet in the survey mentioned above more than a third of MPs thought they should keep final salary pensions.

Even if pensions are curbed in return for a rise in salary it is still likely to be deeply unpopular with the public, particularly at a time of such hardship for so many. The Speaker, Mr Bercow, has called for the proposals not to be blocked simply to ‘appease the public’ and has urged party leaders ‘not to feel the temptation to interfere’ with IPSA’s ruling.

But ‘appease the public’ they must!  After all, ‘we’ are the voters who put them where they are and pay their wages.  If we are ‘all in this together’ then a 32% increase in wages for one set of workers is highly inconsistent with what a large majority receive.  For the last five years wages have increased by 10% whilst the cost of living has risen by four times the rate of wages, which has left many people struggling to pay bills.

An e-petition on the Direct Gov website is calling for ‘No MP Salary Increase’ because:

At a time when the country is in deep financial crisis, the ordinary working people of this country are still losing their jobs, have been, still are suffering wage freezes while living costs are spiralling, and the government cutting or capping benefit payments, is it right for MPs to get ANY pay rise, let alone a 32% increase they have been reported as wanting?

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO “WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER”?

 

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