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Storm brewing over MPs proposed 11 per cent pay rise

Craig Whittaker MP

Craig Whittaker MP

Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker said if he was forced to take an 11 per cent pay rise he would consider donating it to charity.

He is among politicians who have reacted with dismay at the proposals from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

MPs were stripped of the power to set their own pay after widespread abuses of taxpayer expenses and Ipsa now sets the pay and perks.

It is pressing ahead to boost MPs salaries by £7,600 to £74,000 after the 2015 general election.

That is significantly lower than the £86,250 average figure MPs told Ipsa they deserved in an anonymous survey earlier this year.

But, many MPs have said the move was unacceptable when most public sector workers were getting no more than one per cent extra a year.

Mr Whittaker said he could not understand why Ipsa was in favour of such a hefty hike.

“I think now is the time for Parliament to get a grip on this Ipsa process. It’s just madness – barking mad,” he said.

“If I am forced to take it, I will look at donating it to a local charity. I hope it doesn’t come to that.”

The planned pay rise was branded “wholly inappropriate” by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander who said he would not take advantage of the extra cash but conceded Parliament was powerless to prevent it being paid.

Ipsa will unveil its final package of pay and perks later this week. It is expected to try to temper criticism by announcing a tougher-than-expected squeeze on MPs’ pensions in a bid to cancel out the £4.6m cost to the public purse.

Mr Alexander said: “Most people will find it utterly incomprehensible that at a time of pay restraint for the public sector, at a time of further squeezes on Government spending, that Ipsa should be recommending that.”

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said: “I think it is preposterous we should be having this discussion and, as a shadow chancellor, how could I possibly say to Labour MPs at this time, with the economy under real pressure and a cost of living crisis, that they should take a pay rise?”

Public anger was reflected on social networking sites with many pointing out that working families were struggling to make ends meet in the face of pay cuts, reduced hours and pay freezes.

These concerns were borne out by a report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation which revealed there are more working families living in poverty in the UK than non-working ones – the first time such a balance has been recorded.

Some 6.7 million working families live below the poverty line – an increase of 500,000 on last year – compared with a combined 6.3 million of retired families and the out-of-work, the charity said.

Households have been hit by a sustained and “unprecedented” fall in living standards, its report found. Average incomes have fallen by eight per cent since their peak in 2008.

As a result, around two million people have an income that while above today’s poverty line, would have been below the poverty line in 2008.

Of those in work, the number paid below the living wage rose from 4.6 million to five million in 2012.

 

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