Somewhat lost in the main news story yesterday, the papers broke that MPs are expected to receive a payrise of almost £1,000 in April. This comes shortly (9 months) after a backdated pay increase of 10%. Needless to say, the move has been crisicised by many and for a variety of reasons. However, I do find it extremely difficult to have a solid opinion. I cannot categorically state that I am in support of a rise, nor am I actually against the idea. It is clear to me that both sides of the fence have good arguments in support of their own beliefs.
A major talking point is that public sector pay is frozen at 1% increases until 2019. This is a decision taken by voting MPs and brings into question fairness. How can MPs cap pay increases for the rest of the public sector at 1% and yet take a 1.3% increase themselves. I completely understand the fury that this has created amongst some; however, this argument fails to take into consideration the simple fact that MPs do not decide their own pay rates. Instead this matter comes down to IPSA (Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority). ISPA have argued that the pay increases are fair and that in future any increase will follow in line with the public sector. They also note that the recent 10% increase was backdated. If the issue of fairness is going to be raised, I don’t believe you can bring into contention the lack of a payrise for public sector workers. This is not fair to the MPs who do not control their own pay.
Another point argued is whether their payrise is deserved. This argument carries on over to an argument that MPs are paid too much already. When you take into consideration the pay of other public servants such as Doctors, Teachers and the Armed Forces, why is it MPs are paid so handsomely. Again, I understand where this argument comes from, yet I cannot get fully behind it. The MPs in this country are democratically elected officials to run the country. It is their responsibility to do so and regardless of if we believe the current government is doing a good job, I don’t think you can dispute that these people work their hardest. Their strategic importance to the running of the country at all levels should surely be paid accordingly.
As mentioned, I completely understand the frustration from sections of the general public who have seen public sector wages (and possibly their own) frozen. But I would argue that their pay should also increase, rather than capping MPs. We talk about needing to make important public sector jobs more desirable and good pay being a driving force to motivate the best employees to join that sector. Then surely the top jobs in the country, where the decisions are made which filter down throughout the rest of society, need to also be desirable. Demonising those that complete these jobs is probably not the best idea.
Find me on Twitter: @TheDanLeigh