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15 retiring MLAs to share bumper £500,000 payoff from taxpayer

Published 29/04/2016

MLAs will receive
MLAs will receive "generous" payments from the Assembly should they be retiring or fail to win their seat in the forthcoming election.

Retiring MLAs and those that lose their seat in next week's election are in line for hundreds of thousands of pounds from the taxpayer.

The BBC reports that 15 MLAs who have opted not to seek re-election will share a pot - or resettlement grant - of almost £500,000.

Depending on length of service and age, the MLAs will receive between £16,000 and £44,000, totalling £440,000.

They will also receive pension - with the first £30,000 tax free.

Only the DUP's Gregory Campbell is not entitled to the grant as he is an MP.

Also those MLAs who are unseated after the May 5 vote will receive a redundancy-type payment.

In the forthcoming mandate, those payments will be capped to a maximum of £24,000.

Former MLA Seamus Close - who received the resettlement allowance in 2007 - said the payment offered financial security "in the uncertain world of politics".

Outgoing MLA David McNarry of UKIP who is in line for £32,000 under the scheme told the BBC the payments were "too generous" and that he didn't see the point.

Chair of the Independent Financial Review Panel, which sets pay rates for public representatives in Northern Ireland, Pat McCartan said the current system was designed to encourage people into politics during a "very, very difficult time".

"That situation no longer pertains. It is time now to look at what we should have for the foreseeable future for comparison with other legislatures," he told the BBC.

Mr McCartan said the new rates are similar to those in parliaments in Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

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