More than 160 MPs write to parliamentary watchdog demanding bigger pay rise for their staff
More than 160 MPs from across the political divide have written to parliamentary watchdogs demanding a better pay increase for their staff.
The letter, co-ordinated by Labour backbencher Gareth Snell, said MPs wanted to “give our staff the pay awards they deserve for the work that they do, for us and our communities”.
Salaries for MPs 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.
It means the hike for parliamentarians beats the current inflation rate of 1.8% while the rise for their staff falls under it.
In their letter to Ruth Evans, the chair of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the MPs from five different parties demanded a rethink.
“We do not believe a 1.5% increase is a fair uplift for our hardworking staff and nor do we believe the staffing budget reflects the needs of our constituents in accessing the service they deserve,” they said.
“We would urge you to reconsider the increases to our staffing budgets so that we can give our staff the pay awards they deserve for the work that they do, for us and our communities.”
The MPs added that most workers will end up worse off in the face of rising living costs and raised concerns about the “increasing pay gap between us and the staff”.
They noted that other staff members working directly for the House of Commons are expected to get at least a 2.7% pay rise for next year.
The letter was signed by MPs from Labour, the Conservatives, the DUP, the Lib Dems and the SNP, as well as independent MP John Woodcock.
PoliticsHome revealed today that staff members have themselves written to Ipsa to say they were “extremely disappointed” with the pay hike.
They warned that it failed to recognise the fact that their workload has increased because of Brexit.
Labour MP Kevin Barron, the former chair of the Commons committee on standards, yesterday 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.”
An Ipsa spokesperson said adjustments to MP staffing budgets "consider a range of evidence and options, including pay policies elsewhere in the public sector".
They added: "The board also take into account their responsibility to use taxpayers’ money responsibly, and therefore decisions on MPs’ budgets are made with affordability as a key consideration.
Members of Parliament are the employers of their staff and decide the exact amount of any pay increases for their staff.
PoliticsHome revealed yesterday 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.”
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.