#Austerity for Everyone Unless Your Are A Minister of Parliament #Rich/Poor

English: MPS Logo

English: MPS Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#AceNewsServices says plans to award MPs an 11% pay rise have been criticised across Westminster, with one minister describing them as “utterly incomprehensible”. 

BBC NEWS: 

Parliamentary watchdog Ipsa is set to recommend a rise of £7,600 to £74,000, to come in after the 2015 election.

Ipsa does not need to get the agreement of Parliament to bring in the changes.

But Treasury minister Danny Alexander urged it to reconsider, saying it would be “wholly inappropriate” at a time of curbs on pay in the public sector.

The rise – to come into effect in May 2015 – comes as part of a package of changes to MPs’ salary and benefits which would see some allowances scrapped.

Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority

Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MPs currently earn a basic salary of £66,396 but the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is expected to say on Thursday that their pay has fallen behind in recent years and a substantial “one-off” rise is justified.

The BBC’s political correspondent Gary O’Donoghue said Ipsa would conduct a statutory review of pay at the start of the next Parliament, at which point the rise could theoretically be reversed, but this remains unlikely.

‘Preposterous’

All three party leaders disagreed with the move when it was first proposed earlier this year but the watchdog is expected to say it will press ahead with the rise – expected to cost the public purse £4.6m.

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“Start Quote

What I’m concerned about is to ensure that the pay is sufficient to attract people from modest backgrounds ”

Jack StrawLabour MP

English: East entrance of HM Treasury Français...

English: East entrance of HM Treasury Français : Entrée Est de HM Treasury (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mr Alexander, Lib Dem Chief Secretary to the Treasury, urged the watchdog to reconsider, saying it must take into account public opinion as well as “the wider economic climate and the climate of people’s living standards”.

It would be “wholly inappropriate for MPs to get such a large pay rise when every other public sector worker sees their pay rises capped at 1%,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.

Conservative defence secretary Philip Hammond said he would not personally be accepting the pay increase, saying it was the “not the moment” to do so.

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of whether MPs’ pay is too high, too low, comparable to other people, at a time when we are asking people across the public sector – nurses, doctors, teachers – to accept pay restraint, members of Parliament have to be seen to be leading the way,” he told BBC Five Live’s Pienaar’s Politics.

He suggested the Cabinet would take a “collective line” on the issue of whether to accept the rise or not.

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Analysis

image of Alan SoadyAlan SoadyPolitical reporter, BBC News

It is regarded as a no-brainer by MPs that many voters loathe the idea of politicians being paid more, especially at a time of austerity.

The main party leaders conclude that it’s too politically toxic.

But privately a lot of MPs believe a pay rise, however unpalatable to taxpayers, is justified.

Like so many workers, they have seen real-terms pay cuts in recent years (albeit on salaries at least three times the average).

Other perks have also been trimmed since the expenses scandal.

Few are keen to put their head above the parapet, but those who have argue that MPs’ pay has fallen behind that of head teachers, doctors or local council leaders.

The argument goes that people from those middle class professions could be deterred from running for Parliament.

“We could end up with a Commons full of toffs and nerds,” a former MP once said to me, adding that this would not be an unedifying combination.

But no matter how many arguments are put forward in favour of a hefty pay rise for MPs, it’s not going to be an easy one to sell to the public.

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls told the Dermot Murnaghan show on Sky News that the proposed increase was “preposterous” and he could not defend it at a time when people were facing a “cost of living” crisis.

But former Labour foreign secretary Jack Straw, who is retiring as an MP in 2015, said the party leaders could not complain about the decision after handing responsibility over to an outside body.

“What I’m concerned about is to ensure that the pay is sufficient to attract people from modest backgrounds who have not inherited a house, who don’t have family or personal income, but who are going to make a career out of politics,” he said.

And Conservative backbencher Sir Peter Bottomley said it was sensible for MPs’ pay to be set by an outside body at the start of each Parliament, with a regard to how to attract MPs from all walks of life.

“The only way MPs could overturn this is to defy their leaders and pass a law saying Ipsa is abolished or it will be ignored,” he said. “That’s impractical given the public interest in setting up Ipsa first.”

Tea and biscuits

A Downing Street spokeswoman said MPs’ pay was “a matter for Ipsa” but ministers believed the “cost of politics should be going down, not up”.

Ipsa previously said it had looked at increasing the current salary of £66,396 to anywhere between £73,365 and £83,430, but opted for a lower figure “in recognition of the current difficult economic circumstances”.

After 2015, it proposes that MPs’ wages would increase annually in line with average UK earnings.

At the same time as recommending a pay rise, the watchdog is also expected to announce a squeeze on pensions and the resettlement grants that MPs are given when they leave Parliament.

The amount that MPs have to contribute to their pensions is set to increase while MPs’ final salary scheme is expected to be downgraded to a career average in line with the rest of the public sector.

Other changes would also see a £15 dinner allowance and claims for tea and biscuits scrapped. And it would mean taxpayer-funded taxis were only permitted after 23:00.

There would also be a crackdown on claims made for running second homes, with costs such as TV licences and contents insurance no longer being met.

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#austerity, #richpoor, #bbc, #danny-alexander, #downing-street, #independent-parliamentary-standards-authority, #ipsa, #labour, #member-of-parliament, #peter-bottomley

“Selling off Britain’s Assets or Selling Out Britain’s People”

#AceNewsServices says later to day the UK government‘s infrastructure spending plan for the next two decades is being unveiled, to the wider audience but an article provided by BBC  gives an insight of how this ” Sell Out Of Britain” will take place.

The National Infrastructure Plan (NIP) includes the government selling off its 40% stake in the Eurostar rail service.

In all, about £375bn of investment in energy, transport, communications, and water projects is planned.

The insurance industry, which has not traditionally been a big infrastructure investor, is also unveiling plans to invest £25bn over the next five years.

Redevelopment

Eurostar train The UK government owns 40% of Eurostar. France’s SNCF owns 55%, and the Belgian state 5%

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, told the BBC: “The most important thing we’ve done as a government is create an environment in which people want to come in and invest in British infrastructure.”

But he admitted that the UK had “underinvested… over several decades”.

Denying that there was a north-south divide in how spending was being allocated, Mr Alexander said: “There are projects going on in every part of the country.”

Previous infrastructure spending programmes have been criticised for slow progress, but Mr Alexander said that of the 646 projects outlined in this plan, 291 had already been completed.

“Start Quote

Scheme after scheme has been announced to great fanfare, but then little actually delivered”

Chris Leslie Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury

The NIP projects include:

  • a further £50m for a re-development of the railway station at Gatwick Airport
  • a government guarantee to support finance for the development of a new nuclear power station at Wylfa, north Wales
  • confirmation that a UK guarantee has now been agreed for the £1bn Northern Line extension to Battersea in London
  • funding for improvements to the A50 around Uttoxeter, in Staffordshire, to start no later than 2015-16
  • improvements to the A14 around the strategically important port of Felixstowe in Suffolk
  • the target for the sale of corporate and financial assets will be doubled from £10bn to £20bn between 2014 and 2020, including the government’s share-holding in Eurostar.

Last month, Eurostar posted a rise in revenues and passenger numbers compared with last summer.

Transport

Wylfa Nuclear Power StationThe current Wylfa nuclear power station is due to cease work next year

Jeremy Blackburn, UK head of policy for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), said the government should prioritise regional transport infrastructure investment.

“The better connected those areas are the easier it is to move passengers, freight, goods and services,” he told the BBC.

This would attract investment and help create jobs, he argued.

RICS also called for more investment in commercial and residential property, and reiterated its support for the HS2 rail project.

Simultaneously to the NIP announcement, the insurance industry is unveiling that it will invest £25bn in infrastructure projects.

The decision by insurers L&G, Prudential, Aviva, Standard Life, Friends Life, and Scottish Widows to invest in infrastructure follows changes in European rules pushed for by the UK which incentivise investment in a wider range of assets.

‘Vote of confidence’

In September, CBI director general John Cridland said the government’s infrastructure policy was “faltering” amid fears that it lacked the “political will” to deliver.

Critics have pointed to data showing infrastructure spending falling in recent times, not rising.

But in a speech later, Danny Alexander will say: “The announcement today that six major insurers will invest £25bn over the next five years is a massive vote of confidence in the UK economy.

“It supports the wider £100bn public investment to rebuild Britain over the next seven years that I announced at the Spending Round 2013. Underground, overground, on shore, offshore, wired or wireless, tarmac or train track. You name it, we’re building it right now.”

Felixstowe harbourFelixstowe, the UK’s largest container port, should benefit from the proposed improvements to the A14

 

#bbc, #chief-secretary-to-the-treasury, #danny-alexander, #eurostar, #gatwick-airport, #infrastructure, #northern-line-extension-to-battersea, #royal-institution-of-chartered-surveyors, #scottish-widows, #wylfa-nuclear-power-station

New Name for Cuts to Public Services is #austerity – According to the Edict of Cameron

A consensus is at last emerging for fundamental reform of our public services. For the government, Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, Theresa May and Frances Maude have all made the case over recent months for policies based on outcomes not inputs – where success is defined by the health of the nation and the level of crime, not just the number of nurses and police officers.http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/02/austerity-government-approach-public-services-cuts

#aceuknews, #austerity, #danny-alexander, #francis-maude, #nick-clegg, #theresa-may