Page last updated at 10:29 GMT, Friday, 5 March 2010

MPs to get pay rise of nearly 1,000

MPs in the Commons chamber
Backbench MPs are currently paid 64,766 a year

MPs will get a rise of nearly £1,000 in their basic salary from 1 April, taking their pay to £65,737 a year.

The 1.5% increase follows uproar at the MPs' expenses scandal and anger among public sector unions at pay freezes.

MPs used to vote on their pay but now recommendations by the Senior Salaries Review Body go through automatically.

The government says ministers will turn down the rise. One union said the rise did not "seem right" when "low paid" council workers' salaries were frozen.

The Local Government Association has said 1.4 million workers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will get no rise as authorities try to protect front-line services and minimise job losses.

Tory warning

SSRB chairman Bill Cockburn wrote to Commons Speaker John Bercow at the end of February to inform him of the rise.

The review body calculates MPs' pay based on the median increases given to 15 other groups of public sector workers.

Teaching assistants, school dinner ladies, social care workers, road sweepers will get nothing
Dave Prentis, Unison

Downing Street said ministers would not take any rise, either in their basic MPs' pay or their additional ministerial salaries.

Cabinet ministers currently get an extra £79,754 per year, giving them a total salary of £144,520.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: "The prime minister is clear that we need to strengthen public confidence in the political system and reduce the cost of politics."

The Conservatives will match the government's stance, with shadow ministers not taking the pay rise.

The Tories have promised a 5% cut in ministerial salaries if they win the general election.

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg and his deputy Vince Cable will also forgo the pay rise.

'Damaged morale'

In December's pre-Budget report, Labour announced belt-tightening measures for 2011-12 including a 1% cap on public sector pay rises and an increase in National Insurance.

The Conservatives have promised to freeze all public sector pay for those earning more than £18,000, excluding members of the armed forces, for a year from 2011.

MPs do not do enough to be able to claim that they deserve such pay

Dave Prentis, general secretary of public sector workers' union Unison accepted the review's recommendations should be honoured.

"However, it does not seem right that MPs can get a 1.5% pay increase - worth £1,000 a year on basic pay - when low-paid workers such as teaching assistants, school dinner ladies, social care workers, road sweepers will get nothing, because their pay is being frozen.

"They [the MPs] might also want to contemplate the speeches and seminars calling for lengthy pay restraint in the public sector and the damage they cause to morale and public confidence."

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