Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Rate for the job
“I can also announce that we are asking the independent Pay Review Bodies to consider how public sector pay can be made more responsive to local labour markets – and we will ask them to report back by July next year.
This is a significant step towards creating a more balanced economy in the regions of our country that does not squeeze out the private sector.” so said George Osborne in his Autumn statement.
This understandably caused a flurry of condemnation from opposition politicians and not only opposition politicians even the Conservative Leader of the Opposition in the Welsh Assembly raised an eyebrow at the policy.
The report, when published next July, will likely, generate plenty of heat if not light, should it recommend a move away from national agreements to regional and local pay agreements.
But there is one area of the public sector that the policy has already been implemented and that is in the pay cheques of our politicians.
If you’re lucky enough to be elected a Member of Parliament, you'll get an annual pay cheque of £65,738. Yes, even before claiming expenses. Contrast this with the pay of politicians in our devolved institutions.
In Scotland a Member of the Scottish Parliament gets £57,521. In the Welsh Assembly a member would get £53,852 and a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly £43,101. So there we have it, regional differentials for the same job.
But the story does not end there. It raises the question why Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Members of Parliament are paid the same as their English colleagues when they have to do a lot less than their English colleagues.
Why, less? Because the politicians in the devolved countries are doing most of the heavy lifting. It is Assembly Members that deal with issues like health, housing, education and planning amongst many other areas that have been devolved.
It is in these areas of public policy that voters most often go and seek the help of politicians.
And at a devolution stroke, the MP has had this burden lifted off his well paid shoulders. No more full surgeries full of dissatisfied or aggrieved constituents, no more amateur social work. They've had their job description changed for the better.
The workload was cut, but was the rate for the job? Well, no, not on your life. A pay cut, wash your mouth out, Hughes.
Surely such a state of affairs shouldn't go unchallenged. Politicians are constantly urging the voter to make sacrifices for the greater good. How about leading by example.
If the salary of MPs from the devolved countries were to be reduced to that received by their colleagues in these administrations, there would be a saving to the public purse of £1,114,056. In these hardened times not a sum to be sniffed at.
So c’mon David Cameron, push for change. Let the Commons take action. After all, you’ve already declared that there are too many MPs in the Commons, that’s why you're reducing the numbers. Why not save some more cash by paying the proper rate for the job.