Cameron can’t block pay rises for MPs
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), has recommended a £7,500 pay rise for MPs. Ipsa was brought in five years ago after revelations of expenses scandals to monitor MP pay and expense activities. The Tory MP for New Forest East, Dr. Julian Lewis criticised Ipsa for this proposed 15% pay rise, calling it a “delusional folly”. Since 2009, the MP expenses and extra living allowances have been more vigorously scrutinised which has led to appeals for their £66,000 per annum salary to rise in order to compensate.
Public outrage is expected against this recommendation due to the current restraint on public and private sector pay rises being on average 1%. MP pay rise figures have been calculated after Ipsa conducted a survey in January with findings showing that many MPs believe that they are not paid enough for their work and think that they should be paid around £86,000. However, ministers do not have the power to oppose the Ipsa recommendations and it is rumoured that Cameron has been told that if government did try to prevent the rise, there would be a guaranteed opposition by the two thirds of MPs who are unhappy with their current salary. Though no final decisions have been made, the changes would be implemented after the 2015 general election.
During his visit to Islamabad, David Cameron addressed the matter stating that it “would be unthinkable unless the cost of politics was frozen and cut”. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg went one step further and declared that he would not take the pay increase even if it was implemented. Some backbench ministers feel that it is ironic that the pay rises are being vehemently opposed by ministers who are also on a second salary.
It will be interesting to see how this issue unfolds. It may be that Ipsa’s recommendations are justified and MPs’ pay rises have not kept pace. However, in this time of austerity where middle to lower income families are being squeezed from every direction, this may not be the time for MPs to raise legitimate concerns about their pay.