MPs earn more than 96% of their voters

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The Independent Online

High earners such as Premiership footballers take home 100 times more money each week than the typical British worker. And MPs now pay themselves enough to have clambered almost to the top of the incomes ladder.

High earners such as Premiership footballers take home 100 times more money each week than the typical British worker. And MPs now pay themselves enough to have clambered almost to the top of the incomes ladder.

Although average pay in Britain was £400.10 a week in April 1999, the small proportion of the workforce on huge salaries distorted the figure. Half of all employees earned less than £333.80 a week, according to the independent researcher Incomes Data Services (IDS).

Nurses on average earn just over this median figure before tax, and management consultants twice as much. But the average is raised by the 10 per cent who earn more than £650 a week or £33,800 a year. MPs are now among the top tenth of earners. Their basic salary of just over £47,000 a year puts them on £902 a week before tax, and means they take home more money than 96 per cent of their constituents.

A Premiership footballer does staggeringly better, earning an average of £33,000 a week ­ the equivalent of 100 motor mechanics. The bulk of the working population earns between £180 and £400 a week (or £9,500 to £20,800 a year), according to the report.

Referring to the fact that average earnings in 1999 were calculated at £20,861 a year, IDS commented: "When people hear this figure it is frequently met with disbelief. 'That's far too high,' they say. Or you hear: 'I don't really know anyone on that sort of money.'

"Such reactions are understandable. The average is as high as it is because it is pulled upwards by the highest earners in the economy."

In fact, two-thirds of all full-time employees earn less than this average. Part-time employees, of whom there are nearly 7 million, are often paid lower hourly rates. And the unemployed, of course, are on lower incomes still.

Another article in the IDS report for November looks at the impact of the national minimum wage, currently £3.60 an hour, on which the Low Pay Commission is due to report next month. It poses the question: "Will there be an uprating mechanism which is determined by an independent body, or will it be in the hands of politicians?"

The minimum wage would correspond to gross pay of £144 for a 40-hour week, or less than one-sixth of the earnings of an MP.

Either way, the low-paid have a long way to catch up.

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