Burnham turns down 10% pay rise

Press Association
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Labour leadership hopeful Andy Burnham will not accept an inflation-busting 10% pay rise planned for MPs.

The £7,000 increase, which will take MPs' salaries to £74,000, has been proposed by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

Mr Burnham said if the planned hike goes ahead he will turn it down at source or donate the money to "local groups".

The shadow health secretary said the proposed rise "cannot be justified".

Ipsa has launched a final review of the plans, declaring it could see no "material" reason to change them.

Unless a consultation produces "new and compelling evidence" by the end of the month, the move will be confirmed, with the rise backdated to May 8.

The increase was originally unveiled in 2013 to address complaints that MPs' pay has dropped behind that for other jobs.

Writing on Twitter, Leigh MP Mr Burnham said: "I have always been clear that 10% pay rise for MPs cannot be justified. I won't accept it. Will turn down at source or give to local groups."

David Cameron is set to receive the £7,000 pay rise despite previously branding the increase "unacceptable".

Downing Street has made clear the Prime Minister will not seek to block Ipsa's proposal - and he will personally get the extra money.

It means that, having declared last month that ministerial pay was being frozen for the duration of the parliament, Mr Cameron is in line for an effective 5% bump in his total remuneration, while Cabinet ministers' overall pay will increase by 5.2%.

Downing Street said that although Mr Cameron still opposed the backdated increase in MPs' pay, it was ultimately a matter for Ipsa to determine.

The premier's spokeswoman said he was focused on areas where he had the power to bring down the cost of politics, including proposals for boundary changes to reduce the number of MPs at Westminster.

The government element of salaries has been frozen until 2020, but unlike in the last parliament, the rise for MPs will not be offset by cutting ministerial pay.

Mr Cameron's total package will therefore rise by 5% this year, from £142,500 to £149,440.

Blocking the rise for rank-and-file MPs would have required a change in the law, and with a slim majority it was far from clear whether Mr Cameron would have been able to carry a vote in the Commons.

The document issued by Ipsa stressed that due to cuts in pensions and expenses - such as a ban on claiming for evening meals - the overall package of changes will not cost taxpayers "a penny more".

Mr Cameron is not intending to turn down the additional money, his official spokeswoman indicated.

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Asked whether the Prime Minister would follow Mr Burnham's lead in refusing the rise or donating the money to charity, the spokeswoman told a Westminster media briefing: "The Prime Minister's approach is clear. He has opposed this increase.

"It is for Ipsa as an independent body to determine what MPs are paid. The Prime Minister is an MP."

She added: "There is MPs' pay set by Ipsa. The salary that the PM controls is ministerial pay. When he entered office he cut ministerial pay and then he froze it. He made clear a couple of weeks ago that he will freeze it for five more years. That is freezing ministerial pay for a decade."

Liz Kendall, another of the Labour leadership contenders, will also refuse to take the pay rise recommended by Ipsa.

The shadow care minister and MP for Leicester West said the plans were "completely wrong" when Ipsa recommended the rise and her spokesman confirmed her views had not changed.

She told the Leicester Mercury in 2013: "I oppose it, I'll try and change it, and if Ipsa refuses, I won't take it."

Asked if that remained her position and that she would not accept the money, her spokesman said: "Correct."

A Labour spokeswoman indicated that the party's acting leader Harriet Harman would not take the additional money.

She would not give details on an "individual by individual" basis on how Labour MPs would respond to the expected pay rise.

But she said Ms Harman had made clear that Labour regards a rise in MPs' take-home pay as "unacceptable" at this point, and she would therefore be "very surprised" if the leader chose to take the money.

A spokesman for Labour leadership contender Yvette Cooper announced that she would not be taking the proposed pay rise.

"Yvette thinks its wrong to have 10% at a time when the deficit is still high and public services are about to be cut," said the spokesman.

"She thinks Ipsa should withdraw it and the Prime Minister should step in to prevent it. If it goes through she won't take it, but she thinks Ipsa and the Prime Minister should sort it out before that."

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