MLAs' pay to rise but expenses cut
Politicians at the Northern Ireland Assembly are to get a pay rise of nearly £5,000 but face hefty cuts in their expenses and allowances.
An independent review has ordered the changes, which it said will deliver an overall saving of £3.16 million to the taxpayer.
The Independent Financial Review Panel revealed its findings which will also cut the financial benefit to Assembly Members who double as district councillors or MPs.
Chair of the independent panel Pat McCartan said: "I think it is a tough but fair and equitable and affordable package."
The package of measures also seeks to cap the hiring of family members by politicians, and tackle the hiring of services from relatives or from political donors.
After a study of the work of Assembly Members, and the fact that each of the 18 constituencies elects six representatives, the review ruled that wages will remain lower than other devolved UK legislatures.
The group's chair added: "The Assembly should be applauded for having the courage to place these decisions in the hands of an independent panel totally free of political influence."
He said the measures introduced new regulations for expenses to improve value for money and increase transparency and accountability.