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DUP MPs and MLAs to donate pay rises to local causes

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Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is the DUP's Westminster leader.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is the DUP's Westminster leader.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is the DUP's Westminster leader.

The DUP has announced that the party's MPs and MLAs will donate their upcoming pay rises to local good causes.

Both MPs and MLAs were due to receive a pay rise from April 1.

MPs are to receive a 3.1% pay rise taking their basic salary from £79,468 to £81,932.

The DUP's eight MPs will donate the £2,464 each to local causes.

All of Stormont's MLAs had already announced they would return or give their £1,000 pay increase to charity after the decision to award them the increase sparked widespread condemnation.

With the DUP having 27 MLAs it means the party will be donating up to £46,712 in total to causes across Northern Ireland.

In a statement the party outlined the reasons for their decision.

"Salary levels for MPs and MLAs are set independently and it is proper that elected representatives should have no input into the setting of their salaries," the DUP statement read.

"The Democratic Unionist Party does not believe there should be salary increases at this time. Consequently all Democratic Unionist MPs and MLAs will be donating the salary increase they have been awarded to support local good causes at this time of Covid-19 crisis.

"Our representatives have been working hard on the ground to support constituents at this time and we will continue to do so in the face of this Covid-19 health and economic crisis."

It was announced MLAs were to receive the increase, just days after returning to Stormont in January from a three-year absence.

Salaries for MLAs are to rise from £49,500 to £50,500 per year after the rise was automatically applied by the Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP).

In 2016 the panel announced salaries would increase from £48,000 to £49,000 and by £500 each April if inflation was greater than 1%.

The panel is fully independent and is not subject to the control of either the NI Assembly or the Assembly Commission.

It comes after controversy earlier this month when it was revealed that MPs were set to get an extra £10,000 expenses allowance to help with working from home costs during the coronavirus pandemic.

While Sinn Fein confirmed last week that their six MPs would not be availing of the allowance, DUP Westminster leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the rise to expenses was indicative of the exceptional circumstances.

"Parliamentary authorities have made provision for MPs to avail of additional office costs to be incurred so that staff may continue to safely continue their work," he said.

"It allows for the purchase of any additional IT equipment for staff to work from home or for telephone systems to be amended so that important queries from constituents can still be dealt with.

"The support is not given directly to MPs, but enables them to purchase equipment from a central facility."

Belfast Telegraph