On Wednesday 6 October, when Boris Johnson stood on stage in Manchester and promised to present “Great changes of generations” which his predecessors have “shied away from” without bothering to outline a common policy, his government has been busy cutting benefits to their lowest level since 1990. low incomes during the pandemic mean more than £ 1,000 a year will be taken away from 4.4 million households. This will affect 8.6 million people, including 3.5 million children, a group that, by definition, has absolutely no right to influence the financial situation of its family. Just as inflation hits highest level since the financial crisisRishi Sunak’s Treasury decided that now was the right time to overnight deprive a million families of a tenth of their income.
Keep all of this in mind as you think Tory senior backbentcher decided this week tell New statesman that MPs need a wage increase because living on a salary of only £ 81,932 was “grim”. “I believe that being an MP is the greatest honor you can get,” said Peter Bottomley. NS British editor Anush Chakelyan. “But a general practitioner in politics should receive about the same salary as a general practitioner in medicine.”
In fact, he argues, the complexity of the MPs’ lifestyle – two houses and so on – means they really need to pay more. The average salary for a therapist in England is £ 100,700: to achieve a similar standard of living, Bottomley argues, MPs need to be paid £ 110,000-115,000. Currently, their income is only two and a half times the average income. As for his junior colleagues, “I don’t know how they handle it,” he says.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about Bottomley, who comes across as a decent, thoughtful man and has a view – clearly unfashionable in the modern Tory party – that the MP’s job is to help people. (He even thinks that Universal Credit Reduction should have been introduced more gently, although, surprisingly, he is not strongly opposed to it.)
And in our country we have a bad habit of talking about wages in the public sector in a vacuum, as if the salaries of those who work for the state can be reconciled without reference to the salaries of those who do not. In fact, of course, the ludicrous salaries paid at the top tier of the BBC are caused by the even more ludicrous salaries offered by commercial broadcasters; If you insist that public sector wages remain low and private sector wages can rise, the inevitable result will be a drain of people, talent, and ideas from the government to industry. At first glance, this may not seem so much a problem in parliament as in some of the more technical aspects of civil service, but it is nonetheless worrisome.
So let’s continue Bottomley’s idea and consider the possibility that MPs should be paid more as general practitioners. What would it look like in reality?
In 2004, the Blair government introduced a new contract with a general practitioner, in which family doctors promised to reward family doctors, most of whom are technically private contractors, depending on how much work they did. The new system paid doctors set amounts based on how many patients they had and how much they needed. In addition, it included a kind of bonus scheme, the Quality and Results Framework, in which they received additional money for achieving certain goals (for example, for checking certain conditions). The ministers thought this would give them a mechanism for making improvements.
The result was massive unplanned wage increases. 30 percent or more, for many general practitioners, followed by a little political panic because it shouldn’t have happened. Family doctors were simply doing much better than the ministers expected. It turned out that the financial incentives worked.
Can a similar system be used to improve the efficiency of MPs? Demos CEO Polly Mackenzie said: proposed linking MPs’ salaries to the amount of work they actually do to encourage participation in debates or elected committees or conduct weekly constituency operations.
There is a precedent for that – it’s not a million miles from local advisors being paid – but I’m wondering if that complicates things too much. Perhaps, instead, we should simply tie the wages of MPs to household income, so that they become richer only when society becomes richer. How can we determine these incomes – average, average, minimum? Well, it rather depends on what we hope to achieve.
Such performance-based pay can be a useful deterrent to complacency over declining household incomes that too many MPs have shown over the past decade. At least they can think twice before voting. the poorest households are poorer…