Row erupts as MPs are given pay hike worth double the rise for their staff

Posted On: 
28th February 2019

Parliamentary watchdogs have sparked fury after they revealed MPs will see a pay rise of almost double that of their staff.

The pay hike for parliamentarians beats the current inflation rate of 1.8% while the rise for their staff falls under it
Credit: 
PA Images

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority announced MP salaries will rise by 2.7% in the coming financial year to £79,468.

But the allowance they get to pay their workers will only go up by 1.5% to £166,930 in London and £155,930 elsewhere in the country.

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It means the hike for parliamentarians beats the current inflation rate of 1.8% while the rise for their staff falls under it.

Labour MP Kevin Barron, the former chair of the Commons committee on standards, said he was “very disappointed” by the disparity between elected politicians and their staff.

He tweeted: “I urge them [Ipsa] to look again at the budgets as it cannot be right that the gap is so great.”

But PoliticsHome can reveal that Ipsa chose to keep staff pay rises down to prevent setting "a precedent" for future years.

At a meeting last week, Ipsa chair Ruth Evans was asked why staff pay was not rising at the same rate as MPs', as it had last year.

Questioned on the anomaly, she told the Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority: “The board thought about this very hard.

“Last year we created a parity, which was the first time that had happened, because at that point it was a 1.8% increase.

“We looked at the optics and we felt that, for a whole number of reasons… we should not set a precedent by creating parity again this year because it would lock us in and create an expectation that that parity would be continued in the future.”

'FRUSTRATING'

One staff member who works for an MP in the Palace of Westminster told PoliticsHome the situation was “frustrating”.

“Ipsa seem so worried by how the Daily Mail will react that MPs staff are left with below inflation pay rises while much better paid MPs receive more,” they said.

“Why should MPs’ staff, often working long hours for low wages, pay the price?”

Pay rises for MPs are determined by average rises in the public sector, which the Office for National Statistics revealed in December would be 1.7% this year.

They get a pot of money from which they have to pay all their staff, but they can top up worker salaries from other parts of their budgets if they are willing and able to.

Meanwhile, chairs of Commons committees will get a 2.7% increase in the pay they get in addition to their salary, rising from £15,509 to £15,928.