It has sneaked in under the radar but it deserves to be highlighted and condemned. As of 1st April the annual salary of MPs will rise from £79,468 to £81,932 per annum and their staffing budgets will increase by almost £22,000 a year.
MP salaries in 2015 were £67,000. In the space of only five years and in the midst of tough and cruel austerity measures which have frozen state benefit levels and severely restricted public sector wages the annual salaries of British MPs have risen by a massive £15,000.
In other words the wage increase for politicians at Westminster has increased in five years by an amount greater than the current annual wage for millions of low paid workers across the UK. MPs have never had it so good. The ‘all in it together’ cry of David Cameron and others as they imposed atrocious cuts in public spending across the UK stands exposed as a nasty empty jibe.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) took the decision in 2018 to link MP’s salaries to public sector earnings as published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) after years of ridicule for effectively deciding their own wage rises but the 3.1% pay rise from April 1st is an inflation busting increase which will make many eyes water and stomachs churn, particularly amongst the seven million workers in employment but trying to survive on low wages and state benefit top ups which have been frozen for seven years.
In the UK fat corporations are effectively subsidised in their poverty pay practices by means tested state benefits paid to the lowest earners. It is a scandalous system which legitimises low pay and gives rise to the ultimate oxymoronic term, ‘the working poor’. If an individual is working why the hell are they poor? A stringent system of enforced and monitored living wages across the economy would prevent such a scandal and increase the standard and quality of life for tens of millions but the politicians who govern our society couldn’t give a damn about poverty pay and the harsh consequences for the millions suffering.
MPs Pampered While Millions Condemned to Poverty
Latest reports confirm in excess of fourteen million people live in poverty in the UK, one of the four most developed economies in the world. Within that figure a shocking 4.1 million children are trapped in poverty households, cursed by real wage declines and frozen state benefits over the last decade and the situation is predicted to get worse by every informed observer. The politicians who have imposed cruel, cold and callous welfare cuts and encouraged employers to reduce employment protections and introduce more casualization of labour with zero hours contracts are sitting back in comfort and splendid isolation, fully insulated from the consequences of their harsh policies.
The truth is the MPs in Westminster are a bunch of overpaid and hyper pampered under-achievers who couldn’t survive the type of ‘performance related pay’ schemes they advocate for others as they would end up owing the public millions of pounds in refunds. Their everyday life is subsidised. Their travel, their food, their accommodation is all subsidised by the taxpayer through lavish allowances which means many MPs simply don’t have an understanding of ordinary life and the pressures of making ends meet. The picture of posh boy Jacob Rees-Mogg lying almost horizontally and apparently sleeping during one of the many Brexit debates last year may be a more extreme example of the contempt the occupants of Westminster hold the public in but that image underlined for many the problem with out of touch, space cadet MPs.
Politicians Are Public Servants but Many Others Have Harder Jobs
MPs undoubtedly have a job which is often time consuming and difficult. I know from my eleven years as an elected councillor and eight years as an elected Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) that you are constantly ‘on-call’ and subject to public demands and scrutiny. Local councillors actually get a raw deal in the political world. They have huge demands placed upon them but with much more limited financial rewards for the time and energy they expend. Dealing with constituents and their multitude of questions, enquiries and problems is a priority for a politician and can be both exhilarating and depressing. For every successful outcome there is at least a disappointment. I consider myself an informed observer when it comes to the life of a full time politician. Preparing for parliamentary business, writing speeches, keeping yourself informed of economic and political developments while making yourself available to constituents is taxing but like everything else in life it is relative.
Full time teachers, nurses, police officers and fire fighters also serve the public. They also perform essential duties which can be very stressful and exhausting. Yet their salaries and employment packages are pathetic compared to an MP. The average UK salary across all jobs in 2019 was £36,611 a year. Many millions earn less as massive salaries at the top of such wages leagues push the average to a level only imagined for many but a teacher can expect to receive between £27,120 and £36,480 per annum after many years’ service. A nurse at the top range and after many years in the job could earn around £32,000. A police officer starts at £24,204 pa. A fire fighter starts at £22,459. Both professions regularly involve life threatening situations but neither attracts the massive salary and allowances package afforded to the MPs in Westminster.
Public servants deserve a reasonable and fair wage. Teachers, nurses, police officers and fire fighters are paid too little while MPs are paid far too much. It is time to bring MPs into contact with the reality of life for ordinary folk. MP salaries should be set at the average skilled worker rate, currently £42,000 p.a. and any increases pegged to increases in that average annual salary. To those who suggest we have to pay more to attract the brightest and best to run society I suggest they pay more attention to the daily shenanigans at Westminster and they will fast realise that axiom is debunked by the reality of the majority of individuals who sit there.
Pay MPs a Skilled Worker’s Wage
The slogan should be Worker’s MPs on Worker’s salaries. Sure over £40,000 a year would still be more than most employees get but at least it would be nearer to the reality and life experiences of the people the politicians are supposed to represent. As an MSP during the years 1999-2007 I accepted the wage of a skilled worker and paid the remainder back into my political party. It was a comfortable wage around £30,000 a year. It was not a sackcloth and Jesus sandals existence. I could afford a holiday, some nice clothes and help pay the mortgage on a lovely home. However it was an existence much closer to the lives of those I was elected to represent. Let’s cut MPs salaries by half, slash their lavish allowances and elect a group of individuals committed to serving the public because they care and not because they want to receive a salary and expenses package that is out of all proportion to the job they perform.