A former Birmingham MP has defended his decision to accept a £30,000 “golden goodbye” payment after standing down from the House of Commons.
Sion Simon, the former MP for Erdington who is now campaigning to become Birmingham’s first directly-elected mayor, said he had received a redundancy payment like any other public sector worker who lost their job.
He was one of 20 former West Midlands MPs who pocketed payments of up to £64,766 following last year’s general election.
Politicians were entitled to payments known as resettlement grants whether they fought their seat and lost or simply chose to stand down, but they only received the money if they applied for it.
Mr Simon and former Black Country MP Sylvia Heal, who represented Rowley Regis and Halesowen, have spoken about the grants.
Others, including former Birmingham MP Clare Short (Lab), former Redditch MP Jacqui Smith (Lab) and former Bromsgrove MP Julie Kirkbride (Con), who all received the payments, did not immediately return our calls. Payments were based on length of service and Mr Simon, who was an MP for nine years, was eligible for £32,383 after he stood down.
He said: “After nine years of the tremendous privilege of serving the people of Erdington in Parliament, I got six months redundancy, which is broadly comparable to local government or other public sector schemes.
“Contrary to common perception, not all former MPs want to be directors of banks or walk straight into other jobs. I am in Birmingham working in the community.”
Ms Heal was entitled to £43,393.22 based on her length of service in the Commons.
She said: “It is almost like a form of redundancy, in terms of giving people time to adjust and time to find alternative employment.
“I understand people’s concerns. All I can say to that is it is part of the terms and conditions of employment that you accepted when you became a member of Parliament.
“Compared to the type of bonuses many people get, certainly bankers, it is not so enormous.”
Westminster officials have only now revealed which MPs chose to apply for the money, after trying to keep the details secret for almost a year.
Commons authorities released the names after the case was referred to the Information Commissioner, the official freedom of information watchdog.
It emerged 220 MPs from across the country accepted the grant and only five, none of them from the West Midlands, chose not to apply for it.