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12 Dec, 2013 17:15

​UK MPs to receive 11% pay rise amid rise in malnutrition and mental health cuts

British MPs are set to receive an 11 percent raise, taking their annual salaries up to more than $120,000 a year, effective from May 2015. The news comes alongside a simultaneous foreign aid budget increase and in the fallout of ongoing cuts.

The standard annual MP salary is to rise from the current £60,000 ($98,500) to £74,000 ($120,000).

The costs will be offset through cuts to pensions, linking subsequent MP pay to average earnings and an end to golden goodbyes when MPs leave office.

Independent watchdog, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), who published its report on MP pay and expenses on Thursday, insisted that the wage hike will not “cost the taxpayer a penny more”.

“Taken together, this package of reform is cost neutral,” said IPSA.

“We are sweeping away the out-of-date and overly generous benefits, and introducing a one-off uplift in pay. Crucially, thereafter MPs’ pay will be linked to everyone else’s,” said IPSA’s chair, Sir Ian Kennedy, in a statement published on the watchdog’s website.

IPSA was set up in the wake of the expenses scandal to prevent MPs from voting through their own pay rises.

The report apparently incited the anger of some politicians.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron stated that he was “ruling nothing out” after the announcement, suggesting that the option of scrapping the watchdog is on the cards if it does not reconsider its decision. It is also possible that he would prevent it from being able to set MPs pay.

Reuters / Dylan Martinez

Cameron warned that the move was ‘unacceptable’ at a time when public sector pay rises were capped at one percent. Kennedy later told Sky News that he had not been assigned his job to be popular.

“I was appointed to chair an independent body and independent bodies have to sometimes say no to people even if they happen to be party leaders,” he said.

Meanwhile, UK food poverty is becoming an alarming reality, according to official statistics, which show that the number of those admitted to hospitals with malnutrition has risen from 3,161 in 2008/09 to 5,499 in 2012/13. In early December, its extent prompted six public health experts to co-author a letter to the British Medical Journal.

Additionally, figures released on Thursday indicated that English mental health trusts have had their funding cut by over 2 percent in real terms over the previous two years. Both pieces of news come amidst a slump in wages.

It is not only Cameron who has spoken out against the move: Labour leader, Ed Miliband, and Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, have both commented on the move as being unjustifiable, with Miliband calling for talks to put a stop to the raise.

The move comes “at a time when this Government is saying to millions in the public sector, 'you cannot have a pay rise more than 1%' I think it really would be very difficult - to put it mildly - to explain why MPs should be treated differently,” said Clegg on LBC radio, prior to the official release of the report.

Public polling has indicated that 45 percent of the public felt that the deal was too generous.