The body charged with determining pay rises for Members of Parliament (MPs) has decided to suspend its usual mechanism for uprating legislators’ pay for the next three years, until 2025.
MPs’ pay reviews, which normally take place in April each year, had been based on the annual increase in average weekly earnings for the public sector (including the nationalised banks) in the year to October, as published each December. However, this year, following a public consultation, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has decided to temporarily move away from using the average weekly earnings series, mainly due to fluctuations in the series as a whole as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and measures to combat its impact on the economy. The body had earlier decided that MPs’ pay should be left unchanged this year, due to the extraordinary effects of the pandemic.
IPSA received around 240 responses to the consultation, of which seven were from MPs or former MPs. IDR also responded to the consultation. As well as the consultation responses, commentary from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which publishes the average weekly earnings figures, on the continued impact of the pandemic on the statistics was central to IPSA opting to vary future pay rises away from those indicated by the previous formula. These could be lower than the estimates produced by the ONS, or higher, in the unlikely event of the public sector earnings figures showing very low earnings growth or even a contraction. According to IPSA, ‘it would not be appropriate to limit our discretion only to reducing the award relative to [public sector average weekly earnings growth], even though we are much more likely to use the discretion in that way.’