The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the UK. But while many have faced financial hardship, job losses, and reduced income, some have been able to claim more money from the public purse. These are the members of parliament (MPs) who have received millions of pounds in expenses and allowances during the crisis.
MPs’ expenses increased by 26% in 2020-21
According to the latest figures from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), the total amount of money claimed by MPs for their expenses and allowances increased by 26% in 2020-21, compared to the previous year. The total bill for the taxpayers was £37.4 million, up from £29.7 million in 2019-20.
The main reason for this increase was the additional costs incurred by MPs for working from home and supporting their constituents during the pandemic. IPSA said that MPs were allowed to claim up to £10,000 for setting up home offices, buying equipment, and hiring extra staff. Some MPs also claimed for extra travel, accommodation, and security costs.
MPs’ pay and pensions also rose in 2020-21
While MPs’ expenses and allowances soared, their salaries and pensions also increased in 2020-21. MPs received a 2.9% pay rise in April 2020, taking their annual salary from £84,144 to £86,584. This was in line with the average public sector pay rise in 2019-20, as determined by IPSA.
MPs also benefited from a generous pension scheme, which cost the taxpayers £22.8 million in 2020-21. This was an increase of 4.5% from the previous year. MPs can choose between a final salary scheme or a career average scheme, both of which are subsidised by the public.
MPs’ expenses and pay have sparked public outrage
The revelation of MPs’ expenses and pay during the pandemic has sparked public outrage and criticism. Many have accused MPs of being out of touch with the reality of ordinary people who have suffered from the economic and social impact of the crisis. Some have also questioned the transparency and accountability of the system that allows MPs to claim such large sums of money.
A petition calling for MPs to pay back their expenses and take a pay cut has gathered over 100,000 signatures. The petition argues that MPs should not be rewarded for doing their jobs while many key workers and frontline staff have been underpaid and overworked. The petition also demands that IPSA should be abolished and replaced by an independent body that can scrutinise MPs’ expenses and pay.
MPs’ expenses and pay are likely to remain a contentious issue
The issue of MPs’ expenses and pay is likely to remain a contentious and controversial one in the near future. IPSA has announced that it will review the MPs’ expenses scheme in 2021-22, and will consult with MPs and the public on any changes. IPSA has also said that it will freeze MPs’ salaries in 2021-22, in line with the government’s decision to freeze public sector pay.
However, these measures may not be enough to appease the public, who may feel that MPs are still overpaid and overclaimed. The public may also demand more transparency and accountability from MPs, who are expected to serve the interests of their constituents and the country. The public may also compare MPs’ expenses and pay with those of other countries, and question whether the UK is getting value for money from its representatives.