Seven MPs in South Yorkshire have vowed to use their controversial 10 per cent pay rise to help charities.
The rise, which will take MPs’ salaries from £67,060 to £74,000 a year and be backdated to May 8, sparked an outcry as it was announced after Chancellor George Osborne limited public sector workers to a one per cent rise for the next four years.
Expenses watchdog the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority officially confirmed the rise, which has caused divisions among MPs and has been debated since 2012.
Louise Haigh, newly elected Labour MP for Sheffield Heeley, said she had told IPSA she ‘strongly disagreed’ with the rise. She said the measures in Chancellor George Osborne’s summer Budget earlier this month would make it more difficult for families to ‘keep their head above water’.
She said: “Unfortunately, there is no mechanism to refuse the pay rise and given I disagree with IPSA’s decision while my constituents are suffering, I have decided to increase my charitable donations.”
Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam, said he would be donating the £6,940 difference to The Sheffield Children’s Hospital Charity.
A party spokesman added: “Nick has been outspoken in his criticism of the decision by IPSA to award MPs a pay rise, which he feels is inappropriate.
“While MPs are technically unable to refuse the increase, Nick will be donating the difference to the Children’s Hospital Charity.”
Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, said: “I have urged the pay body not to impose this increase. I give a significant sum to good causes each month. Now I’ll give more.”
And Clive Betts, Labour MP for Sheffield South East, said: “I currently make significant donations to charities and other voluntary bodies. As a result of IPSA’s decision to increase pay I will increase those donations.”
Doncaster’s three Labour MPs – former Labour leader Ed Miliband, MP for Doncaster North, Don Valley’s Caroline Flint and Doncaster Central’s Rosie Winterton – also said they would use the money to help good causes.
They said: “It isn’t right MPs should get this kind of pay rise when other working people face pay freezes and ordinary families are seeing their tax credits cut.
“We will donate the extra money to worthy causes.”
IPSA says MPs’ pay will in future be adjusted annually in line with average earnings in the public sector.
Its package of changes also included an end to ‘generous’ resettlement packages, cuts to expenses and giving MPs a ‘career average’ pension in line with other parts of the public sector.
The Star asked all 14 MPs in South Yorkshire whether they planned to accept the pay rise or give it to charity.
Angela Smith, Labour MP for Penistone & Stocksbridge, said: “The timing of this pay adjustment leaves a lot to be desired. It is, however, cost neutral – MPs will be losing as much as they gain from this package. Most important of all, it maintains the important principle that MPs should not be involved in determining their own pay.”
Harry Harpham, Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, said: “I think IPSA is wrong to award MPs this pay rise. I have always given to charity ever since I started working, and will continue to do so.”
In Rotherham, John Healey, who represents Wentworth and Dearne for Labour, said it was ‘the rate for the job of MP’ as determined by IPSA and he would put the increase into his constituency office, which he had always subsidised.
He said: “What MPs do with their salary is down to them. I’ve always subsidised my local office and donated to charity, and I’ll carry on doing this.”
Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham Central, Kevin Barron, Labour MP for Rother Valley, Dan Jarvis, Labour MP for Barnsley Central and Michael Dugher, Labour MP for Barnsley East, did not respond.
The man in charge of the expenses watchdog, IPSA, said the issue of MPs’ pay had been ‘ducked for decades.’
Sir Ian Kennedy, IPSA chairman, said the body had broken with the past to create a ‘new and transparent scheme’ after extensive consultation.
He said: “Pay has been an issue which has been ducked for decades, with independent reports and recommendations from experts ignored, and MPs’ salaries supplemented by an opaque and discredited system of allowances.”
Traditionally, MPs were unpaid, but salaries were introduced to stop just people with considerable wealth from taking up the role.
IPSA was created by Parliament in 2009 to oversee and regulate MPs’ expenses.
Sir Ian said: “In making this decision, we are very aware of the strongly held views of many members of the public and by some MPs themselves.
We have listened to those views. We have made an important change to the way in which pay will be adjusted annually. Instead of linking MPs’ pay to wages in the economy, it will be linked to public sector pay.
“Over the last Parliament, MPs’ pay increased by 2 per cent, compared with 5 per cent in the public sector and 10 per cent in the whole economy.
“It is right we make this one-off increase and then formally link MPs’ pay to public sector pay.”