Pay rise for MPs proposed!

House Of Commons

MPs pay is back on the agenda after Marcial Boo, Chief Executive of IPSA, spoke out over the proposal to increase MPs salary to £74,000.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) set up following the 2009 expenses scandal, is following up on last year’s proposal for MPs to receive a pay increase. Should the increase be introduced it would mean MPs would be paid £74,000 per year compared to their current £67,000. Mr Boo, in an interview, explained that MPs do an ‘important’ job and their current salary for the work they do is ‘miserly’. He continued to explain that the salary of MPs had ‘fallen behind’ hence an increase was being proposed.

This latest proposal follows the pay increase suggestion in 2013 by IPSA when they said MPs should receive a pay rise of around £10,000, again justifying it by describing the salary was falling behind that of civil service pay. Public anger erupted following the 2013 proposal as the economy was unstable with the government’s austerity policy in full swing and public service cuts affecting many. As a result of this anger and MPs speaking out against the rise, including David Cameron describing the move as ‘unacceptable’, as well as Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband criticising the proposal, the pay increase fiasco died down.

Mr Boo has also stated that £74,000 may be the ‘low’ end of the increase, though this is unlikely to settle well with the public. In 2013 IPSA claimed a poll they carried out identified many MPs felt they should be paid £84,000 and some even felt £100,000 was fair, thus it seems ever more likely the rise will be backed by MPs this time round. It is the view of Boo that the salary of an MP must rise to attract the right people as MPs have a ‘difficult’ job so the salary must be high enough to entice the sort of people we want to represent us, to ‘form laws and send our young people to war’, as Boo so eloquently put it.

It will be the view of many that such a rise is out of touch with the rest of the country while recent reports have identified that more people are employed, they have also found that pay in real terms has decreased because of factors like inflation or that the industry simply doesn’t pay well. For example, a report carried out by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found just under 3.5million people worked fewer hours than they desired and that there was a rise in part-time employment fundamentally meaning their salaries were lower because people were not able to work enough hours. Furthermore, in May of this year it was revealed that in-work poverty, where people who are employed must seek welfare because their salaries do not cover the cost of living, rose 59%. Consequently, it seems wholly inept to increase MPs pay when the public are facing such difficult times on their low salaries.

In addition, following Mr Boo’s argument that higher salaries are needed to attract the ‘right people’ for the job only appears to liken MPs to those loveable rogues that are bankers. I suspect the majority of the population do want well-educated individuals to represent them in the House of Commons but given the response to the 2013 increase proposal I sense the public do not desire a representative who is focused on the money rather than issues of their constituents. Of course it makes sense to make the job more attractive to those from all backgrounds and allow well-educated individuals to reap the benefits of a privileged education but anyone with parliamentary ambitions surely is attracted to the job because of a love of politics and a desire to change things, regardless of the pay, or perhaps that’s too idealistic?

IPSA claim that changes to MPs pensions, which would see MPs pay larger sums into, and terminating resettlement payments mean the taxpayer will not incur any additional burden although should the proposal go ahead it is unlikely to be categorised as a fair deal for the public, especially by those who are feeling the effects of austerity, inflation, low wages and less work hours. However, given that IPSA is legally able to increase MPs salaries and such proposals have been looming since early 2013, the proposal is likely to become reality.

MPs could regain control over their salaries to prevent the rise but this would not bode well with the public given their reputation and the history.

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