8 Dec 2013

MPs get 11 per cent pay rise: ‘two fingers’ to taxpayer?

MPs are set for a £7,600 pay rise, boosting their salaries to £74,000 from 2015 at a time when voters are feeling the squeeze.

Politicians themselves don’t vote on the rise – the decision comes from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which is set to reveal its final proposals next week.

Among the recommendations will be the controversial plan to hike MPs’ salaries to £74,000 a year from 2015, an 11 per cent jump on current pay.

For many people struggling to make ends meet as the UK lives through what has been described as a “cost of living crisis”, the pay rise will be a bitter pill to swallow. However, advocates argue that MPs’ wages need to catch up with other sectors, as well as those of politicians in other countries.

We believe the cost of politics should be going down, not up. Downing Street spokesman

While the three main party leaders have all condemned the rise at a time of austerity, with Labour’s Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg both pledging to turn down the money, research by Ipsa found that two-thirds of MPs believe they are underpaid.

To try and make the pay rise more palatable to the public, Ipsa is expected to announce a tougher-than-expected crackdown on MPs’ pensions to cancel out the £4.6million cost to the taxpayer, as well as cuts to come other perks such as the £15 dinner allowance.

MPs have no way to prevent the rise coming into force after the next general election – unless they change the law set up in the wake of the expenses scandal to stop them setting their own pay.

‘Putting up two fingers to taxpayers’

Ipsa’s original report conceded there is no “compelling evidence” that MPs’ current salary level is deterring candidates, making people leave parliament, affecting the diversity of the House of Commons or lowering the standard of ministers, but said it was “wrong in itself” to keep MPs’ pay low and pointed out that it had gone for a rise at the lower end of possibilities “in recognition of the current difficult economic circumstances.”

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance campaign group, said: “This announcement amounts to an unaccountable quango putting up two fingers to taxpayers. It must be rejected.”

A Downing Street spokesman said MPs’ pay was a matter for Ipsa, but added: “We believe that the cost of politics should be going down, not up.”