The leafs might be falling at this time of year but it would appear that they are the only things that are. House prices are rising, energy bills are rising, the prison population is rising, inflation is rising etc, etc. Oh, nearly forgot, our ever greedy, never satiated politicians are about to see their salaries rising, by 11%!
After the ‘expenses scandal’ which erupted in 2009 an independent body was set up via the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009. This independent body – the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), was tasked to set MP’s salaries and the salaries of MP’s staff. At a time when the government is clawing back £millions from hard pressed taxpayers here you have an independent body, supposedly created to look after the interests of the public, to promote fairness and transparency in MP’s salaries and expenses and to set said salaries, failing miserably on all counts!
The only way that we are going to put a stop to this merry-go-round of freebies from the Public Purse is to vote these miscreants out of office. They, (politicians) make great play out of the fact that the ‘system’ is flawed and that because of this, they are losing out financially. The comparison is always with people who work in the Private Sector. “They can claim subsistence payments, they can claim out of hours payments, they can claim for accommodation,” et al; they constantly wail. Never mind that in the year to April 2013 Ipsa reported that MP’s had claimed a total of £23 million in expenses. That is just short of £35.4k per MP.
People argue that compared to the Private Sector and, indeed, to some salaries being paid in the Public Sector, MP’s are not that well paid. The problem with that argument is that politics is not perceived as full-time employment by most of the general public. Indeed, it was always looked upon, similar to nursing, as a “calling”. It is only in recent times that we have seen the rise of the “career politician”, the scourge of the Common Man!
Of the £34.4k per MP, not all of that will have been claimed for taxi rides or other travel costs. So, a good proportion; for the purpose of, how much does an MP earn?, can be added to their salaries. For example in the Private Sector a self-employed business person can only claim back the VAT on office supplies, can only get an allowance for part of the fuel used when travelling, dependent on the engine size and age of vehicle. There are many more comparisons that MP’s draw on and which they openly exaggerate. They seem to believe that claiming back business expenses is a given, completely ignoring the fact that a self-employed business person can only claim back expenses from the Inland Revenue through his or her tax returns. Even if they take their expenses at source it is reflected in the company accounts which they have to declare, through their accountants, to the Tax office.
So, each politician has a basic salary of £65,738:00 per annum, Ministers also get a supplement. For example, with the supplement the Prime Minister receives £142,500:00 per annum, a Cabinet Minister with supplement receives £134,565:00 per annum and a Minister of State with supplement earns £98,740:00 per annum. Add their expenses on top and you have a robust salary, one that; given the perks which go with the job such as a TV on expenses so that they can keep up with daily events; the average man/woman in the street would break a leg for.
The Coalition pledged to reduce Minister’s salary by 5% for the length of this Parliament. Ipsa announced that Members’ pay would remain frozen at £65,738 for 2012/13 and that “in due course” there would be a public consultation on a 1% increase in the years 2013/14 and 2014/15. It would appear that this has gone by the board because the poor employees at Westminster obviously cannot make ends meet now that the bottomless trough that they all had their snouts securely fixed in has been exposed to scrutiny. I have no problem with politicians taking a decent wage nor, do I have a problem with them being allowed appropriate expenses. I do have a problem with their hypocrisy.
Whatever the present government says about the economy is a lie, if you have to borrow money then you are, by definition, a debtor. This is where I see the hypocrisy, the Coalition have blamed the Welfare State and the Public Sector in general for the financial malaise of this country. They have done little or nothing to stem the tide of illegal immigration, we still have an ‘open-border’ policy, we still allow billions of pounds sterling to be paid as benefit to people who were not born in this country and, in many cases, do not live in this country.
The aged in this country are being penalised for being thrifty prior to old age, a sort of genocide by tax because the financial constraints being put onto the elderly is driving many to an early grave. The jobless are being treated as criminals whilst the criminals are being are being treated to leniency. Pension pots are being raided by stealth and front-line Public Sector jobs are being shed like last years snake skin.
Which part of the Public Sector is not tightening its belt? Which Public Servants believe they are exempt from cuts? The clue is, they all work in the Palace of Westminster. These hypocrites see fit to demand that every UK citizen pay for the morally disgusting way in which the previous government treated the Public Purse. Perhaps they think that it was the fault of the electorate that these useless cretins were in power for thirteen wasted years. Whatever the answer, (other than an insipid Opposition) it is not right that we should suffer in order that they, (the career politicians) can get an inflation busting pay rise and a free ride back to the days of non disclosure when it comes to expenses.
We have all been forced to tighten our belts so it is only reasonable to demand that the political elite do the same. Their assumption that the private sector is a sponge which will mop up the jobless is fatally flawed. Other than unskilled immigrants living in overcrowded accommodation, few of the jobless can afford to live on the minimum wage which the Private sector offers. Where is the logic in expecting people to work for less than they would get from the State? No, it is all wrong. The government should lead by example, if they expect what they consider a suitable wage for the job that they do then it is only reasonable to ensure that people in work and those looking for work have the same expectations.
The trees may be loosing their leafs but the people are loosing their patience. For too long politicians from all Parties have treated the public as fools and cash cows. It is time to put a stop to it. It is time to derail the gravy-train and send a message to Westminster that enough is enough. The ballot box is a mighty weapon; use it!