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MP pay rise of 11% widely criticised

16th Dec 2013

A planned MP pay rise of 11% has been criticised across Westminster and deemed “incomprehensible” and “inappropriate”.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Ipsa, is to reveal an increase in salaries of £7,6000 to £74,000 after the 2015 election.  This is in spite of a lack of support from David Cameron and Ed Miliband, who have called for “cheaper politics”.

Ipsa does not need the agreement of Parliament to bring in the changes.

Treasury minister Danny Alexander has urged Ipsa to reconsider the pay rise, saying it would be “wholly inappropriate” during a time of curbs on pay in the public sector.

The rise comes as part of a package which would also involve cutting some allowances to MPs and clearing up discrepancies in the expenses system.  A Whitehall source said that “across the board” reform would not cost taxpayers more.

Funding for the salary increase is to come from cuts to MPs’ pension schemes.

MPs currently earn a basic salary of £66,396.  Ipsa is expected to say on Thursday that their pay has fallen behind in recent years and that a substantial “one-off” rise is justified.  After 2015 MPs’ wages would increase annually in line with average UK earnings.

All three party leaders disagreed with the move when it was first proposed earlier this year, and now only Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has accepted the independence of the decision.  Despite this the watchdog is expected to press ahead with the rise, expected to cost the public around £4.6 million.

Mr Alexander, Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, asked Ipsa to rethink the decision, saying that it should take into account public opinion as well as “the wider economic climate and the climate of people’s living standard”.

It would be “wholly inappropriate for MPs to get such a large pay rise when every other public sector worker sees their pay rises capped at 1%,” he told the BBC’S Andrew Marr show.

Meanwhile, Conservative Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond has said he would not personally be accepting the pay increase.  He said it was “not the moment” to do so.