Downing Street source: Whether prime minister will give pay increase to charity a “personal matter”
THE Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) has confirmed that MPs’ will get a 10 per cent pay rise this year raising their income to PS74,000, just one week after Chancellor George Osborne announced a four-year one per cent pay rise for public sector-workers, which after inflation is an effective pay freeze.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s office has condemned the pay rise, but the decision is made independent of MPs by Ipsa, which said it was as a “one-off adjustment”.
“In reaching our view we have been mindful of the fact that the country is going through an extended period of austerity. Some saw this as a ground not to increase pay. We do not agree,” the 15-page Ipsa report justifying the pay increase stated.
The report continued: “As the evidence demonstrates, it is proper to make a one-off adjustment to pay, as part of a cost-neutral package of changes. But the circumstances of austerity have caused us to change our minds regarding the mechanism of annual indexation to be used for the rest of this Parliament.
“We initially decided on a measure which would reflect the movement of wages across the whole economy, not least because MPs represent constituents who work across the whole economy. Instead, we will apply a measure which reflects the movement of wages in the public sector. This, we judge, gives proper recognition to the many representations made to us about austerity.”
“The prime minister has consistently throughout this consultation process opposed the pay increase that Ipsa had been considering.” Prime minister’s spokesperson
The justification is likely to do little to dampen public sector workers’ anger who, once the four-year pay freeze is up, will have had more than a 20 per cent drop in wages in real terms. MPs’ pay will be approximately three times that of the average public-sector worker.
In addition, the adjustment will be backdated to 8 May, meaning MPs will get an extra PS1,700 in July’s pay packet.
Cameron said in 2013 that he may block Ipsa from introducing the pay rise for MPs, but his spokesperson appeared to backtrack from that in her response to the news.
“As you know, the prime minister has consistently throughout this consultation process opposed the pay increase that Ipsa had been considering…It is the government that makes the decision on public sector pay. It is Ipsa that makes the decision on MPs’ pay,” she said.
“The idea of an 11 per cent pay rise in one year at a time of pay restraint, I think, is simply unacceptable. Ipsa do need to think again and unless they do so, I don’t think anyone will want to rule anything out,” the spokesperson added.
A Downing St source told Sky News journalist Faisal Islam that it was a “private matter” as to whether Cameron will donate his increase to charity.
“If it does now go ahead, I won’t take it,” she added. “If that is impossible then I will put the money towards something like funding an apprenticeship or similar cause in my constituency.” Yvette Cooper
Labour leadership candidate Yvette Cooper said the decision was “crazy” and called on Cameron to “step in urgently and stop this MPs pay rise going ahead”.
“If it does now go ahead, I won’t take it,” she added. “If that is impossible then I will put the money towards something like funding an apprenticeship or similar cause in my constituency. But I hope the prime minister does the right thing and intervenes to stop Ipsa pressing ahead with this.
Angus Robertson, SNP Westminster leader, said last month that he thought “it would be right to use the funds to support local charities” if the pay rise did go ahead, but it is unclear as to whether this is the position for all SNP MPs.
East-Lothian SNP MP George Kerevan decided after his election in May to take a ‘workers’ wage’ (the average wage of UK workers), while the youngest MP in the parliament, Mhairi Black, has said she would donate any pay rise to charity.
Some MPs were willing to say that they supported the pay rise. Tory MP Tobias Ellwood is quoted in his submission to Ipsa as saying: “I know I speak for the silent majority (who are not millionaires) to say this increase is well overdue…I hope common sense will prevail and this pay rise will be honoured.”
Labour MP Keith Vaz said he was supporting Ipsa’s recommendation because it had been made “independently from members”.
Picture courtesy of UK Parliament