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David Cameron faces grilling over MPs' pay U-turn as Ipsa due to announce hike

David Cameron is braced for a major backlash tomorrow as the MPs' pay watchdog awards them a big hike.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) is set to announce that politicians are getting thousands of pounds extra - just a week after public sector increases were capped at 1% for another four years.

The Prime Minister previously branded an 11% boost from £67,000 to £74,000 "unacceptable" at a time of austerity.

But last month Downing Street indicated that Mr Cameron will not seek to block the move - and he will personally accept the money.

The proposals have caused bitter divisions among MPs, with some decrying the award and others arguing they have been underpaid for decades.

It has also split ministers, with Education Secretary Nicky Morgan breaking ranks to declare she will give the money to charity and International Development Secretary Justine Greening warning that Ipsa is "not working in its current form".

Labour leadership contenders Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall have all declared they will forego the rise.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond is likely to be reminded of comments from 2013 when he indicated he would not accept a pay rise while the rest of the public sector was being restrained.

Michael Gove, now Justice Secretary, memorably declared around the same time that Ipsa could "stick" their pay rise.

Under pressure, the Government formally expressed its opposition to an increase in a letter to the watchdog's final consultation on the plans last month.

Mr Cameron has also imposed a freeze on the ministerial element of pay - meaning he and Cabinet minister will only get an effective 5% bump in their total remuneration.

However, blocking a rise finalised by Ipsa would require a change in the law, and with a slim majority it is far from clear that Mr Cameron could carry a vote in the Commons.

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

Ipsa said last month that the mooted rise would go ahead, backdated to May 8, unless "new and compelling evidence" was submitted.

It 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".

But there are signs that tweaks have been made following pressure from politicians and the public.

One potential shift is to the proposal to uprate MPs' pay in line with average earnings across the UK workforce in future - rather than linking it to rises granted to state employees.

OBR forecasts show average earnings going up 3.1% in 2016, 3.7% in 2017, 4% in 2018, and 4.4% in 2019 - a period when Chancellor George Osborne has limited the public sector to 1% annually.

On top of a £7,000 bump this year, that would leave MPs earning just under £86,000 by 2020 - a rise of £19,000 over a single parliament.


From Belfast Telegraph