Isabel Hardman

Can MPs really refuse a pay rise anyway?

Can MPs really refuse a pay rise anyway?
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If you’re a Labour leadership contender, or keen for other reasons to look in touch with people - or perhaps you really do disagree with MPs getting a 10 per cent pay rise, then the fashionable thing to say is that you’ll be turning down the pay rise. This morning Andy Burnham has said he will refuse the extra £7,000 that Ipsa plans to pay MPs per year, tweeting that he ‘will turn down at source or give to local groups’. Stella Creasy, campaigning to be elected Labour’s deputy leader, has said similar.

Both MPs will have to donate to local groups because Ipsa says there is no way of refusing a pay rise. The regulator also tells me that there is no way of returning the extra money, and therefore you must take the money, which you are then of course free to donate as you wish. Burnham and Creasy clearly recognise this, but how many other MPs, declaring grandly that they are going to ‘turn down the pay rise’, are aware that while this sounds great, it is in fact impossible? Once the pay rise comes into effect, we are likely to see a number of statements of charitable giving from MPs keen to point out that they are not using the extra cash to feather their own nests, but their income will still go up, whether they like it or not.