British MPs who employ their family members pay them on average €7,000 (£5,600) more than other staff, it’s emerged.
In total, 139 parliamentarians had relatives on their payroll in March this year at an annual cost to the taxpayer of €5.7 million (£4.5 million), according to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.
It has prompted the watchdog on MPs’ expenditure to launch a review of the employment of family members, arguing there is public concern. It says MPs’ outgoings on staff generally makes up 80 percent of their costs, a position reflected elsewhere in the European Union (see below).
MPs argue, however, that being less supportive of their family in general is a reason why parents, particularly women, don’t want to stand for parliament.
IPSA says when it conducted a review into the employment of family members six years ago, it opted to allow the practice to continue, instead restricting MPs to hiring a maximum of one relative.
“Despite these safeguards, public concern about the employment of connected parties has remained,” said IPSA.
“We found no ground for concerns for the majority of connected parties (family members) but we also concluded that the controls to prevent misuse of funding on employing connected parties were limited.
“There was no evidence, for example, that connected parties received better salaries than other staff with the same job descriptions and circumstances.
“But because, on average, connected parties occupied more senior roles, their salaries were significantly higher than the average across all MPs’ staff. Salaries of connected parties had also risen at twice the rate of other staff.”
IPSA also highlighted the expense of staff made redundant by MPs who failed to get re-elected in 2015. It said €1.2 million (£975,000) had been paid out to 125 members of staff that were then re-employed by other MPs up to 10 weeks later.
“They were not obliged to return any redundancy payments,” added IPSA. “This is because each MP is a separate employer, so there is a legal break in the employment of the staff concerned. In some parts of the public sector, such as in local government and the NHS, rules have been changed to ensure that people cannot receive redundancy payments on losing a job, if they are soon re-employed in another part of the sector.”
What’s the position elsewhere in the European Union?
This is how British MPs’ pay and expenses compare with other members of the EU.
For staff costs, see under ‘other’ column.
Click on a column to re-order the data and explore it further.