Splashing the cash? Anger as UK MPs to get £10,000 extra for ‘working from home’ expenses (but no pay rise for nurses)
News that UK MPs have been offered an extra £10,000 for “working from home” expenses ignited a firestorm of anger on social media as regular workers now out of jobs get by on measly benefits and nurses struggle on low salaries.
The beefed-up expenses budget can be used to buy equipment “such as laptops and printers” for MPs and their staff and to help cover “additional electricity, heating and phone bills,” the Times reported on Thursday. Rules around providing timely evidence for expenses claims were also temporarily relaxed.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) told MPs that the new measures will provide them “the resources and flexibility to concentrate on your parliamentary duties and support your staff” during the Covid-19 crisis.
How about that, folks? If you’re working from home you can get an extra £10,000 to cover expenses.Oh, sorry, that’s only for MPs.#Shambles— Ajmpol❄️ #FBPE 🇬🇧🇪🇺 🐟 #TruthSeeker (@ajmpolite) April 9, 2020
Yet, members of the public weren’t exactly enthused by the generous increase, with many taking to Twitter to note that it comes on top of MPs’ £81,932 ($102,000) salary (recently already raised by 3.1 percent) and their existing office budget which is £26,000 per year.
Some wanted to know if it was reasonable to assume that the generously remunerated public servants needed an extra £10,000 for “laptops and printers” while front-line workers and NHS staff are struggling on far smaller salaries and benefit payments.
MPs have been offered an extra £10,000 each to support them while they work from home during the coronavirus pandemicThe money, which comes on top of the existing office budget of about £26,000 a year per MP, will be available until March https://t.co/FCmMuZ4pRn— The Times (@thetimes) April 9, 2020
“This seems like a very wasteful, indulgent splash at the taxpayers’ expense when they can least afford it,” one person wrote.
Many recalled how just days ago UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said this was “not the time” to discuss a pay rise for nurses and saw the expenses increase as more evidence of the fact that there is one rule for regular people and another rule entirely for the elite.
Matt Hancock MP - “Now is not the time to talk about pay rises for nurses”Today - “MP’s given £10,000 due to Coronavirus pandemic on top of £80,000 salary”The Tories don’t care about the NHS.— Hasan Patel 🌹 (@CorbynistaTeen) April 9, 2020
As always, one rule for them... pic.twitter.com/FyZswXKLNs— Nick Pettigrew (@Nick_Pettigrew) April 9, 2020
There was also anger over the fact that just days ago, statutory sick pay in the UK was increased by only £1.60 to £95.85 per week.
MPs given extra £10,000 each for home working expenses.Just 3 days ago Statutory sick pay went up from £94.25 to £95.85 a week. A rise of £1.60 a week during a global pandemic!But they'll tell you "we're all in this together"!!#StayHomeSaveLives#EasterAtHomepic.twitter.com/1vJS4pUPVY— Sarah (@Sal_feeko) April 9, 2020
Another person noted that MPs’ expenses are supposed to help them with travel costs and the costs of running a second home near parliament or in their constituency and that the Covid-19 crisis should surely result in lower than usual expenses for MPs, not higher.
Yet, not everyone shared the outrage. Some suggested the anger about the expenses increase was overblown because the money would be used to help lower-paid parliamentary staffers (who are on far smaller salaries than MPs themselves) deal with an increased workload due to the coronavirus crisis.
Seen a lot of carping about this. This will largely help junior, low paid staff working incredibly hard on vastly increased casework loads. If you think your anti-politics bullshit is what the world needs right now I cannot be doing with you.https://t.co/54uXA7KoVS— Emma Burnell (@EmmaBurnell_) April 9, 2020
Can we all stop deliberately misunderstanding the news and pretending that MPs are getting an extra £10k in expenses.That is money made available by IPSA to support members' staff to set up and work from home in order to continue helping constituents.— Dominic Jones (@DGJones84) April 9, 2020
Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, told the Times however, that the automatic £10,000 increase was a “crude” approach and the public would be puzzled over why such a generous figure was picked “without first doing a bit more research into what the actual costs are.”
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