Rishi Sunak Faces Backlash for Accepting Over-Inflation MP Pay Rise

Rishi Sunak’s acceptance of a 5.5% increase in his MP salary, which is higher than the inflation rate, has triggered debate and criticism amidst concerns over rising living costs and economic strain. Here’s the full story.

Cost of Living Crisis

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has overseen a British economy that is wracked by a persistent cost-of-living crisis and mounting concerns over stubbornly high inflation. 

Recent reporting from groups like the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has shown that poverty in the UK has increased and that 6 million people live in poverty in the country. 

Despite overseeing an economy that recently officially entered recession, Rishi Sunak, himself a multimillionaire whose wife is the daughter of the billionaire founder of Indian IT services company Infosys, is set to accept a substantial 5.5% increase in his salary as a Member of Parliament (MP).

Raising Salaries

This decision to grant Sunak a raise follows a recommendation from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which has proposed raising MPs’ salaries to £91,346 annually starting in April, up from £86,584.

Ipsa was formed in 2009 to oversee and regulate MPs’ staffing and business costs, pay, and pensions following the MP’s expenses scandal of the same year.

The proposed pay rise exceeds the current rate of consumer price inflation, which stood at 4% in January. 

Significant Increase

It represents a significant increase compared to the 2.9% rise MPs received last year, a decision Ipsa described as made against an “extremely difficult backdrop.”

When questioned about Sunak’s stance on the pay rise, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister confirmed that all Commons ministers, including Sunak, would accept the increase recommended by Ipsa. 

This decision aligns with Ipsa’s assertion that the pay uplift is in line with recent increases for the senior civil service.

Voluntarily Forgo Increase

Sunak’s spokesperson was at pains to note that government ministers have chosen to forgo increases to their ministerial salaries voluntarily.

The spokesperson noted, “For the government’s part, I would point out that ministers are already voluntarily waiving part of their salaries, forgoing any pay increase to their ministerial salaries, which means that salaries of ministers in the Commons have not increased since 2010.”

Sunak’s income and wealth have drawn national attention, especially given the context of the pay rise. His taxable UK income in the 2022-23 financial year amounted to £2.2 million, with over £500,000 paid in taxes. 

His earnings from capital gains and investment income, mainly from a US-based investment fund listed under a blind trust, exceeded £2 million.

Out of Touch

Critics have accused Sunak, who enjoys significant personal wealth, of being out of touch with ordinary citizens’ challenges, particularly the ever-rising cost of living. 

His combined wealth with his wife, Akshata Murty, who claims non-dom status, a scheme that allows people to avoid tax on foreign earnings, is estimated to be around £529 million.

Over the past four years, Sunak garnered approximately £7 million in total earnings, with the £139,477 from his roles as an MP and Prime Minister constituting just 7% of his income.

Everyone Should Be Able to Be an MP

Despite criticism, Ipsa Chair Richard Lloyd defended the decision: “Serving as an MP should not be reserved for those wealthy enough to fund it themselves. We believe our decision recognises the vital role MPs play in our democracy and considers the continued economic challenges facing the country.”

He continued: “We are committed to supporting a parliament that reflects our society, where people from all walks of life can decide to become MPs.”

Rising Inflation

Rishi Sunak’s refusal to accept an inflation-busting pay rise has sparked debate and criticism among ongoing concerns over rising inflation and the cost-of-living crisis. 

While Ipsa argues that the increase is necessary to ensure diverse representation in Parliament, critics question the decision’s alignment with the economic realities many citizens face, who continue to struggle with difficult choices over household expenses. 

While people from all backgrounds and levels of wealth must be able to live on an MP’s salary, that democratic decision is of little comfort to those who consistently find themselves without enough money to ensure a decent standard of living. 

The post Rishi Sunak Faces Backlash for Accepting Over-Inflation MP Pay Rise first appeared on Pulse365.

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