MPs' 11% pay rise plan defended by salaries watchdog

 

Sir Ian Kennedy: "It's about reducing pensions, cutting back on golden goodbyes, cutting back on expenses"

The body which sets MPs' salaries has defended its plan to give them an 11% pay rise, claiming this will not cost the taxpayer "a penny more" once other changes are taken into account.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) wants to raise salaries by £7,600 to £74,000 in 2015.

Watchdog's case for an increase

  • MPs' pay has slipped the pay of a selection of other public sector professionals, it said
  • It has also fallen behind its previous multiple of average national earnings
  • But Ipsa said it was not convinced that the current salary was putting talented people off becoming an MP
  • Neither was the salary hike justifiable as compensation for less generous pensions or expenses payments
  • "The salary component is justified on its own terms," it said

David Cameron calls it "inappropriate" while Ed Miliband requested talks between the party leaders and Ipsa.

But Ipsa said public opinion was "more nuanced" than the "outrage" suggested.

The proposed package, to take effect in 2015, will include a "one-off" pay rise after which MPs' pay would be linked to average earnings.

Ipsa has also outlined plans to reform MPs' pensions, scrapping the "outdated resettlement payments worth tens of thousands", as well as "tightening up" expenses rules.

The package also calls on MPs to produce an "annual account of their work to help their constituents understand what it is MPs actually do".

Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy said: "We are sweeping away the out-of-date and overly generous benefits, and introducing a one-off uplift in pay. Crucially, thereafter MPs' pay will be linked to everyone else's.

"We have designed these reforms so they do not cost the taxpayer a penny more. When taken with the tens of millions we have saved by reforming the business cost and expenses regime, we have saved the taxpayer over £35m with the changes we have introduced since 2010."

Start Quote

Time for a Christmas quiz... Question 1 - Should MPs set their own pay?”

End Quote

Andrew McDonald, Ipsa's chief executive, said a two-year consultation had found the public was "split down the middle" on its plan - which it said would not cost "a penny more" than current arrangements.

"This shows us something important: this is an issue where the public has a more nuanced, and split, opinion than the reactive howls of 'outrage' from some commentators and politicians," he said.

He said the message that costs would not increase had been lost in the "hubbub of the last few days".

Once it is heard, he said, he hoped commentators would "pause before making sweeping assumptions about what the public think without asking them".

'Totally out of touch'

In an interview with BBC Radio West Midlands, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "We need a process and an outcome in which the public can be confident and a one-off large pay increase at a time when you've got pay restraint across the public sector. I think that is not on."

There will be a final review of the proposals after the next general election, which is due in 2015.

If they are approved at this stage, the pay increase will be backdated to the date of the election.

Ipsa does not need Parliament's agreement to make the changes.

Pay MPs well, says former Conservative MP Michael Brown, but the Taxpayers' Alliance's Robert Oxley says a big pay rise is "very unfair"

Mr Cameron said: "There is time to get it right. The decisions will be made in second half of 2015 and I hope [Ipsa] will think again.

"I don't want to go back, if we can possibly avoid it, to a situation where MPs vote on their own pay."

But he added: "I don't rule out, nobody rules out, taking action if they don't modify the proposal."

Labour leader Mr Miliband opposed the rise and said the three main parties must "get together to deal with this".

He said: "I want to be clear with the public, I don't think it's right that MPs should get this pay rise at a time when nurses, teachers, people in the private sector are going through a pay squeeze and facing incredibly difficult economic circumstances.

"I think it will just undermine trust in politics further. I'm determined that this pay rise does not go ahead if there's a Labour government."

Ipsa was "wrong" to propose the pay rise, he added.

Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: "It would be incomprehensible to millions of taxpayers who pay the salary of MPs - and certainly incomprehensible to millions of people in the public sector whose pay has either been frozen or limited to an increase of 1% - that at this time MPs should receive such a dramatic increase in their pay."

But he added that he did not "want to go back to the bad old days when MPs set their pay and rations, so Ipsa has got its job to do as an independent body".

 

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  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1693.

    The suggestion is that our poor downtrodden MPs need to "catch up". Catch up with whom exactly?

    People in the rest of the country has had to endure pay freezes, pay cuts, or losing their jobs altogether.

    Being an MP is not exactly a skilled job, it requires no qualification, and for the most part they sit on their backsides, voting the way they are told.

    Why not link their pay to Nurses?

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1526.

    I’m a school governor and our Head Teacher does a great job, for which he is appropriately rewarded. BUT, he doesn’t change laws, he doesn’t represent 100,000+ people and he doesn’t run the risk of losing his job every five years on the whim of voters who don’t know him, are often woefully ill-informed or just plain stupid. He is though, paid comfortably more than MPs.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1525.

    I think it is worth remembering 295 MP's have secondary earnings, in one form or other. Some earn substantial amounts. It's understandable people are angry, whilst every one else are taking wage cuts and having pensions slashed, the justification for their big pay rise is that they are not going to receive a big pay off, welcome to the real world.

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 1265.

    I've eaten one meal in the last 24 hours. I have zero money, enough Gas & Electricity for another couple of days, and one week to go to my next JSA payment of £71. I've recently completed 120 Hours unpaid mandatory Community Work for the 'crime' of being unemployed. I've eaten food that I found in the street. My father & Grandfather fought for this country. What planet are the MPs living on?

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 1212.

    I've had my pension cut back as well as other 'perks' plus a wage freeze for 4 years so this bloke needs to get a grip of reality and come down from his ivory tower to see how ordinary people live. I don't really care for his arguments or logic as all of those have gone out of the window in the past 4 or 5 years and we've all suffered. MPs should share our pain

 

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    The parties have been ramping up their campaigns - with 99 days until people go to the polls. The BBC's Jo Coburn highlights some key dates between now and then.

     
  73.  
    @ChrisMasonBBC 06:42: Chris Mason, BBC political correspondent

    tweets: A couple of broadsheet front pages Labour would rather not see--following up #wato's Alan Milburn interview

    Newspapers
     
  74.  
    06:37: Making the headlines

    Former Health Secretary Alan Milburn's comments yesterday - in which he called for Ed Miliband to promise NHS reforms and compared Labour's campaign to the 1992 general election - feature on the front of the Times and the Daily Telegraph this morning.

     
  75.  
    06:29: Poll tracker

    The polls will be coming thick and fast in the coming months - keep up to date with the BBC's new interactive poll tracker, which lets you see the results of polls conducted by a range of organisations.

    The tracker also includes a timeline of key events, so you can see how public opinion might have shifted at important junctures in the past five years.

     
  76.  
    06:17: The day ahead
    David Cameron

    The big event today, as it is on most Wednesdays, is Prime Minister's Questions, which begins at noon in the House of Commons. There are, at most, only eight of these sessions left before the election so David Cameron and Ed Miliband will be more eager than ever to come out on top.

     
  77.  
    06:10: Good morning Alex Hunt Politics editor, BBC News Online

    Hello and welcome to a fresh day's coverage of political developments ahead of the 7 May General Election - yes there's just 99 days to go now. You'll be able to listen or watch all the BBC's political output today on this page and we'll be bringing you all the best clips, quotes, analysis, reaction and breaking political news throughout the day. If you want to see what to expect, here's yesterday's campaign countdown.

     
  78.  

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