Members of parliament are due to receive a 1.4% pay rise in April 2017. This will take the salary of a typical MP to £76,011. Most other public sector workers, on the other hand, have been subject to pay freezes and austerity measures since 2010.
‘All in this together’
Six years of grinding austerity were kick-started by the David Cameron-led Coalition government in 2010. At the time, the infamous slogan “all in this together” was used to promote the austerity model. With George Osborne as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the government made cuts to public services across the board. It also forced public sector workers to accept a pay freeze.
Income inequality rose, food bank use increased, and public services verged on collapse under the strain. The public sector pay freeze was then lifted in 2015, but a strict pay cap of 1% a year was introduced.
These policies have meant that many public sector workers have suffered a real-terms pay cut of 15%, when set against inflation, since 2010. Across the country, millions of families have faced hardship as a result.
Members of parliament
Despite being civil servants, and therefore public sector workers, this punitive regime has not affected MPs. Recent years have seen a spate of scandals regarding MPs’ expense claims. These included cases such as that of Nadhim Zahawi, Conservative MP for Stratford-upon-Avon, who claimed £5,822 from the taxpayer in 2013 for gas and electricity to heat his horses’ stables.
They are now set to rise again.
A country that works for everyone?
With the Cameron and Osborne years now left behind, new PM Theresa May sought to distance herself from their excesses. She launched her reign with the line: “A country that works for everyone.” But her continuation of national austerity, as her parliamentary colleagues grow wealthier, suggests a different reality.
Britain is still as it was. A country that works only for the elite.
– Read more Canary articles about austerity here.
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