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Everyone is sharing this meme about MP pay rises, but here's why they're wrong

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(Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

You may have seen a meme circulating on Facebook and Twitter which attempts to take the complicated issue of pay rises for MPs and equate it to the recent announcement that all other public sector workers are facing a one per cent pay freeze.

But the issue isn’t quite as simple as meme makers on the internet are making out.

The salary for members of the House of Commons has been raised to £74,000 from £66,396 per annum, backdated to take effect from 8 May 2015.

However, the rise is part of a package that cuts pensions and resettlement packages, tightens MPs' business costs and expenses, and introduces a proposal that MPs should produce an annual account of their spending of public funds.

According to the Independent Parliament Standards Authority (IPSA), the net cost to tax payers for the new pay deal for MPs is not a penny more than the previous package.

In addition, the new package means MPs salary will be adjusted by the rate of annual change in public sector average earnings.

So in real terms, the amount of money MPs get isn't rising by 11 per cent.

Meanwhile, in George Osborne's latest Budget, a one per cent pay freeze on all other public sector workers was imposed, with the reasoning that keeping pay levels low would mean cutting fewer jobs altogether.

Some public servants, such as teachers, have faced a 15 per cent real terms pay cut in salary since 2010 due to wage freezes.

So again: in real terms, public servants are facing pay cuts, rather than a one percent pay freeze.

Many individual MPs and the Liberal Democrat, Green, Democratic Unionist and Ulster Unionist parties as a whole were against the increase, which since it is independently administered by IPSA, they can't refuse.

Of course, some were happy at the perceived prospect of extra dosh, including Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, who said this week:

I know I speak for the silent majority (who are not millionaires) to say this increase is well overdue... I hope common sense will prevail and this pay rise will be honoured.

You're welcome, mate.

When IPSA implemented the new pay package rules they acknowledged that significant pay increases for MPs are wildly unpopular, noting that:

...There is never a good time to increase MPs’ pay, which is why Parliament and the government have so often avoided taking a decision.

That hesitancy has led to a gradual erosion of MPs’ incomes against many of the accepted comparators, and to the sort of practices which culminated in the expenses scandal of 2009.

So if you’re still angry about the imbalance between MP pay and other public sector pay, you should take it up with them.


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