All Government ministers are to forgo their pay rises for 2008-09 to reflect the importance of public sector wage restraint at a time of economic uncertainty, Downing Street has announced.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown rejected a recommendation from a review into Westminster pay that would have seen MPs receive an additional £650 “catch-up” payment on top of their annual pay rises for each of the next three years.
Ahead of a vote on MPs salaries in the Commons on July 3, he also rejected a proposal from Sir John Baker’s review that their pay should be linked to the three-month average public sector earnings index, and said that they should instead rise in line with the mid-point of a basket of public sector settlements.
With some settlements yet to be negotiated, it is not clear exactly what rise this would produce for MPs in 2008-09, but it is thought likely to be in the order of two per cent.
Mr Brown accepted recommendations from the Senior Salaries Review Body for pay rises next year of 1.5 per cent for senior civil servants, 2.2 per cent for senior military officers and very senior NHS managers, and 2.5 per cent for judges.
Mr Brown’s spokesman said that the decision to give up ministerial pay rises for one year was made by the Prime Minister at this morning’s Cabinet meeting and agreed by all those round the table.
Secretaries of State approved the decision on behalf of their departmental ministers, who will also be affected.
Ministers’ pay is normally linked to the rise in average increases in senior civil service salaries. A 1.5 per cent rise next year would have meant approximately £1,900 more for Mr Brown, £1,200 for Cabinet ministers and £500-£600 for lower-ranking ministers.
The pay restraint applies only to the portion of salaries related to their ministerial jobs. They will receive the same rise as other MPs in their £61,181 salary for being a constituency MP. A spokeswoman for Unison, which represents 1.3 million public sector workers, including 800,000 local government employees on an average wage of £13,000 a year, said: “It is all very well ministers giving up their pay increase, but this is small comfort to millions of public sector workers who are faced with an effective three-year pay cut.”
Unison is balloting its local government members on strike action in protest at a 2.45 per cent pay offer, which has already been rejected by workers.
Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Freezing the pay of Ministers and MPs shows that the Government recognises the pain that ordinary families are suffering in these rough economic times.
“With millions of people having to tighten their belts, it’s only right that Westminster follows suit and tries to save taxpayers’ money.”
Shadow leader of the House Theresa May said Tory leader David Cameron would also give up his pay rise this year.