Unions angry as 'underpaid' MPs call for huge pay rise

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The Independent Online

Members of Parliament believe they deserve a 32 per cent hike in their salaries – with nearly 70 per cent saying they are underpaid for the job they do.

A survey carried out by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) found that Conservative members of Parliament on average wanted a £31,000 increase in their basic salary to £96,000 a year, while their Labour counterparts felt they deserved a £12,000 hike to £77,000. Currently MPs are paid around £65,000 a year.

The suggestions drew stinging criticism from union officials and the TaxPayers' Alliance last night.

Ipsa is conducting a review of MPs pay and pension entitlements and is due to publish its recommendations later this year. But an initial report yesterday published the findings of an anonymous survey of MPs.

Despite setting strict public sector wage limits of 1 per cent for the next two years – and recently voting for the same below-inflation uplift for those on most benefits – significant numbers of MPs did not believe the cap should be applied to them.

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said MPs are "living in cloud cuckoo land" and should "get real" about what kind of pay the public would accept. "This shows they are totally out of touch with working people... when the rest of the country is being told to tighten their belts".

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of said: "Hiking politician's wages at a time of pay freezes, benefit caps and necessary spending cuts would be completely unpalatable to taxpayers. To do so would suggest that there is one rule for MPs and another for the rest of the country."

Overall nearly 30 per cent did not believe the 1 per cent limit should apply to them, including 34 per cent of Tories. Ipsa confirmed that the limit would apply to them for the next two years after which there will be a fundamental reform of both MPs pay and pensions.

A number of MPs commented that their pay should be increased because they had additional costs that were not covered by expenses.

One said: "The costs associated with doing the job should be recognised. For example, we receive endless requests for raffle donations, breakfasts, teas, dinner, lunches, etc. We frequently have to entertain people. And we spend money on things which cannot be claimed back."

Another added: "An MP earns less than a deputy head teacher in the bigger schools in their constituencies, every pharmacist, GP, Police Area Commander, in my case seven employees of the local council. And this is all before you consider the substantial costs that an MP is unable to recover – including entertaining."

Ipsa's chairman, Sir Ian Kennedy, said its new approach on MPs' pay was a "crucial step in helping Parliament to regain the trust of the public".