Cap-busting 1.8% rise for MPs reignites public sector pay anger
Civil service unions urge politicians to give workers same rights to fair pay that they enjoy
The Palace of Westminster. Credit: PA
A review body’s decision to award MPs a 1.8% pay rise from next month has reignited anger from civil service union leaders because of ministers’ repeated failure to remove the 1% cap on public sector workers' pay, which has been in place since 2012.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority’s decision represents an increase of £1,368 a year on the basic MP salary, which is currently £76,011. It follows an award of 1.4% last year and 1.3% for 2016-17.
The FDA union, which represents senior public servants, and Prospect, which represents professionals in a range of public sector roles, did not criticise the level of awards made to MPs – which have been below inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index for the past two years.
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However they said there was clear evidence of double standards over what was deemed to be a fair system for MPs and what was fair for the staff delivering the public services that the government and MPs oversee.
FDA general secretary Dave Penman said the union welcomed the fact that MPs’ pay was set by a fully independent review body, whose recommendations were not “subject to the whims of the political cycle”. But he questioned why such a system was limited to them.
“We don’t think it’s right that the rest of the public sector has to make do with arbitrary restrictions on their pay that serve no purpose other than to garner headlines,” he said.
“If a fair and transparent system of setting pay is good enough for MPs, then it’s good enough for the people who run the vital public services that we all rely on.”
Prospect deputy general secretary Garry Graham agreed, pointing out that the union had never attacked MPs pay or questioned the legitimate recommendations of IPSA.
“We have argued, however, that what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” he said.
“To avoid accusations of hypocrisy, government and MPs should make it clear that the 1% cap has been lifted – not just for themselves but across public sector and pay awards will be centrally funded.
“I look forward to this being reflected in the Treasury remit guidance for this year."
IPSA was created in 2009 by the Parliamentary Standards Act. In addition to determining MPs pay and pension arrangements, it regulates their business costs and expenses, and provides financial support for carrying out parliamentary functions.
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