Today’s recommendations from IPSA on MPs pay have been with met the condemnation we’ve come to expect regarding our politicians — snouts in troughs, out of touch political class, etc. But it’s not simply MPs giving themselves more money. Here are the key five points of what the independent recommendations are actually proposing:
1. Overall cost of politics will increase
Despite the reshuffling of MPs’ remuneration (see point 4 for details), IPSA estimates the overall spend will increase £0.5 million by 2015. The headline figure that the cost of politics is going up is just the sort of story MPs like Conor Burns are keen to avoid.
It gives the impression they are out of touch, especially given the pay freezes and cuts in the rest of the public sector. And the reaction from MPs suggests many are keen to distance themselves from the proposals:
I’m going back to my constituency. Will try to repair the damage inflicted by this IPSA proposal.
— Conor Burns MP (@Conor_BurnsMP) July 11, 2013
On MP’s pay: I think this proposal is wrong. When thousands of local people in Cumbria are working hard without… http://t.co/htHV1zo0Dp
— Tim Farron (@timfarron) July 11, 2013
MPs CANNOT accept IPSA proposed pay rise. We have to vote to abolish IPSA and abolish the expenses system at the same time #nomoreexpenses
— Nadine Dorries MP (@NadineDorriesMP) July 1, 2013
2. All three party leaders are opposed to the changes
David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have all come out against the rise – united in saying that it is the wrong time to be considering pay increases. Prior to the announcement, the Prime Minister said making politics more expensive was ‘unthinkable’ (which is exactly what IPSA has recommended) while the Deputy PM said the public will find it ‘impossible to understand’. Today, the Labour leader has said he won’t accept the £6,000 pay rise.
3. MPs’ salary is going up to £74,000
The basic salary for a Member of Parliament is increasing by £6,000 by 2015, a 10 per cent rise. After this, further pay rises will be linked to average earnings across the economy. Compared to the rest of the world, salaries for MPs in the UK will be higher than in Germany, France and Spain, but less than the US and Japan. But, it is nearly three times higher than the average UK wage of £26,500.
4. ‘Golden goodbyes’ are scrapped (again) and expenses tightened
To fund the salary increases; resettlement payments for retiring long-serving MPs — worth up to £64,766 — are on the way out. They were originally abolished following the MPs’ expenses scandal but were reintroduced on an interim basis. The £15 allowance for evening meal and taxis after late Parliamentary sittings are also disappearing.
5. Annual L’Oréal reports
In an attempt to justify the spending rises, IPSA has told MPs they will have to produce an annual assessment to show ‘they’re worth it’. This will take in contributions they’ve made to the House — through legislation or select committees — as well as their work with constituents. Some of this information is already compiled, but other parts are new. More transparency on what our representatives get up to is never a bad thing.