The Guardian: LONDON, England, By Aubrey Allegretti – MPs will get a £2,200 pay rise from next month, the parliamentary spending watchdog has announced, sparking a backlash given the change will coincide with the national insurance hike and a growing “cost of living crisis”.
The 2.7 percent increase in MPs’ salaries is nearly half the current rate of inflation, effectively meaning they will get a real-terms pay cut, but comes against a backdrop of significant economic hardship for many and the Bank of England urging workers not to ask for sizeable pay rises to try to stop prices spiralling out of control.
Downing Street has said previously Boris Johnson is against MPs getting higher wages, while the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, went further and argued the move should not go ahead.
Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, also said a lot of people would be “understandably angry” at the decision, “particularly when families are facing a cost-of-living crisis”, adding: “MPs don’t need a pay rise just as workers across the country don’t need a tax rise.”
However, MPs’ pay is set independently of both the government and parliament. The issue is now decided by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which was set up in the wake of the 2009 expenses scandal.
The rise was awarded due to the amount of work MPs do, which “dramatically increased last year”, said Richard Lloyd, chair of Ipsa.
He said: “This is the first increase in pay for MPs in two years and follows the average of increases across the public sector last year.
“MPs play a vital role in our democracy and this is reflected in their pay. It is right that MPs are paid fairly for the responsibility and the unseen work they do helping their constituents.
“For parliament to reflect society, it is vital that people from all walks of life can be an MP.”
Zara Sultana, the Labour MP for Coventry South, said the regulator’s decision was wrong, and added: “Ordinary people are facing a Tory cost-of-living crisis. They should get a proper pay rise, not well-paid MPs. That’s why I will donate mine to Coventry Foodbank and other local causes.”
One Conservative backbencher told the Guardian they had “already given mine away”, while another said: “Don’t want it, don’t need it, not my decision, now meant to justify it.”
People would be furious at the news, said John O’Connell, the chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance. He claimed their anger would be compounded because many will “face crippling tax hikes” and added: “Elected officials should show restraint and only accept rises when economic conditions allow.”
Meanwhile, the Trades Union Congress said it was “time for a pay rise for all workers – not just MPs”.
Some MPs privately voiced support for the move, noting that the rise was well below current levels of inflation.
One said: “We either want pay set independently or we want MPs to control their own pay. We can’t have it both ways.
“We appear to want to run headlong (back) into a world where only wealthy people can afford to be MPs. Ipsa is independent for a reason.”
Another noted that when Ipsa consulted on raising MPs’ pay for 2021-22, the original rise considered was 4.1%. In the end, the watchdog U-turned because it said any increase “would be inconsistent with the wider economic data and would not reflect the reality that many constituents are facing”, meaning MPs’ received no extra earnings.
National insurance is due to rise by 1.25 percent for both workers and businesses next month. There are also concerns about inflation, a dramatically-increased energy price cap and concerns costs could soar further given the sanctions announced to tackle Russia’s economy following the invasion of Ukraine.
Top Feature Photo: MPs in the House of Commons. Their pay is set independently of both the government and parliament – UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/EPA