An e-mail from IPSA to the author confirming that MPs and staff salaries will continue as they were before has been seen by Independence Daily. There has also been further confirmation
that they can now claim up to another £10,000 to help
cover “working from home expenses”.
There will be continued debate about whether the government’s policy on tackling the coronavirus – Covid-19 infection has been prompt enough and has put in the required resources and equipment, and much more, including even questioning the necessity of it at all.
This has now been thrown into some confusion by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson having had to be admitted to hospital due to having a serious Covid-19 infection. There can be no doubt that he has worked very hard to solve the crisis and thankfully he appears to be heading on his side for a full recovery.
Can this hard working ethic demonstrated by him be equalled by other politicians?
It is true that many government ministers have been working night and day throughout this crisis and one or two have been struck down by covid-19, including Health Secretary Matthew Hancock.
But what about the rest of the 650 MPs? A small number have gone back to work in the medical and care sectors and some have been volunteering in their communities, but what about the others?
This is important as one theme the government has been using: “We are all in it together,” seems to have resonated with the British public, who have responded in a number of wonderful and inspiring ways. Huge numbers have offered to become NHS volunteers, inspired very much by the media, plus many others coming forward to offer their services to help others in their own communities.
Then there have been the thousands of former NHS staff who have willingly agreed to come back to work to help in the battle against this pandemic.
Many others have been asked by the government to accept not being able to work, suffering lower or no incomes, in order to do their bit for the national policy of attempting to not spread the disease.
As there are many of these who will find it difficult to cope financially despite the government’s compensation package, the question needs to be asked: “Who is not doing their bit?”
There will always be those who benefit in times of crisis and also those whose incomes will not be affected at all.
Many of those still working are carrying out very valuable roles for their communities, those who keep essential services going, those working in supermarkets, postal workers, delivery personnel and many more. Some of them are the unsung heroes, who are being recognised for the value they really are to everyone else. Of course and NHS staff are top of the list and the nation is very proud of them.
Recently a fine example has been set by some of those in the football profession who have taken pay cuts, as have a number of senior executives in major companies.
But what about the politicians? Did they not sanction the methods to deal with the pandemic?
It was not just the Conservative governing party, it was MPs of all parties, and the Labour Party has even been advocating the shutting down of more businesses. They were, of course, aware of the sacrifices millions across the UK would be making to be “all in it together” to defeat this pandemic threat.
Yet of all the groups in the UK who are unaffected financially by this national effort, it is the politicians who stand out as a group whose incomes are not only the same as they were before this crisis started, but have actually increased.
MPs obtained a 3.1% rise of salary to £81,932 per year, ironically on 1st of this month, April Fool’s day. Chairmen of Select Committees receive an additionally salary of £16,422 pa.
Politicians are not attending Parliament; they are having to do whatever parts of their jobs they can remotely, but essentially they have less to do, yet are being paid the same.
The Prime Minister, Cabinet Members and Ministers all receive additional pay, as does the leader of the opposition. The salaries for the PM and Cabinet Ministers range from £149,440 to £141,505, with Junior Ministers receiving £96,375. It could be argued that they are doing their jobs in as a committed a way as they were before, but some may not be.
Should they not all be showing an example and offering to have the same cut in income as other sectors of the population? Or at least a token 20% to demonstrate leadership by example?
Even the Prime Minister’s team needs to look at doing this, to show that they are “all in it together”, alongside the general public.
Back in 2015, the government decided to set an example by having Ministers pay cut by 5%, but that would be insufficient in the circumstances now.
This is nothing to do with the issue of MP’s pay, as there are good arguments as to why UK politicians’ pay should be higher. But now is not the time for that debate. Now is the time for a wartime type spirit of “doing the right thing” as the government likes to say.
In addition to the MP’s pay rise, it has now been announced by IPSA that MPs can claim an additional £10,000 a year for themselves and their staff for “working from home expenses”. In a letter to MPs, IPSA says the new measures will provide the MPs with the resources and flexibility to “concentrate on your Parliamentary duties and support your staff during the covid-19 crisis”. This beefed up expenses budget can be used to buy equipment “such as laptops and printers” and to help cover “additional electricity, heating and phone bills”.
At a time when most of the rest of the nation are suffering financially in some way, and even nurses have been told by Matt Hancock that now is not the time to have a pay rise, it seems that MPs really must set an example, otherwise trust in politicians will diminish ever further.
After all, if the politicians are not suffering financially like most of the rest of the country, then they will never understand what the general public are going through.