The Independant Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has just recommended an 11% pay rise for its politicians.
While ordinary citizens are suffering some of the most severe austerity measures in modern time, IPSA has just granted parliamentarians a hefty pay rise. But then they deserve it, don’t they?
This means that a back-benchers salary will rise from £66,936 to £74,00. The Prime Ministers salary will increase from £142,500 to £158,175. Compare this to the 2012 average gross income of £26,312 for each citizen in the UK, and it is easily seen that back-bench politicians earn 2.5 times more than their constituents.
They point out that while Ipsa has proposed a large headline pay rise at the same time they are removing other lesser known benefits – such as MPs final salary pension schemes and generous grants when they lose their seats which will actually make them worse off.
But the IPSA chairman Sir Ian Kennedy stated that “We are recommending a modern, professional approach which also means refining the rules on expenses and business costs to rule out MPs claiming for an evening meal,” he said.
Under the planned shake-up, the current salary of £66,396 will rise to £74,000 after the election in May 2015. From then wages would increase annually in line with average UK earnings. While politicians are earning 2.5 times more than the average Briton, I fail to see how the salaries can be kept “in line with average UK earnings”.
The existing final salary pension scheme would also be downgraded. Death in service benefits would also be reduced from 4.5 times their salary to 2 times their salary, and widows will be entitled to less. How many other Britons recieve death in service benefits?
In total the pension changes would save £2.5 million in the first year, according to IPSA.
Prior to 2010 “resettlement grants” of up to £65,000 were payable to departing MPs, even if they stood down voluntarily. These will not be brought back. Rather in 2015 there would be interim arrangements of up to £33,000 for those who lose an election, but by 2020 defeated politicians will only be entitled to two weeks’ pay for every year of service if they are under 41, and three weeks if they are older – similar to redundancy terms in the rest of the public sector. Again, I remain uncertain as why politicians need a grant of £33,000 if they lost an election. I further disagree with redundancy payouts, as most former politicians will migrate to well paid jobs in the private/public sector; directorships of companies, ambassadorships, delegates et al at salaries far exceeding their parliamentary salary.
Strange as it may seem, UK politicians generally refused to accept the pay rise, telling IPSA they than “stick it”. Others questioned whether IPSA itself, which costs £4 million a year to run, provides good value for money, and called for a vote in the House of Commons on whether it should be abolished.
However, the cynic in me tells me that politicians are refusing this pay rise and the long-term benefits are much more lucrative now, than they will be if the IPSA changes are introduced.
Biting off the hand that feeds it? I think not! Getting rid of IPSA? Yes OK, but if so, guess who will be regulating politicians pay rises and conditions? The politicians themselves, of course. And politicians have always had a way of looking after themselves!