Expenses and inequality
Nigel has pointed out that part of the expenses outrage is “motivated by a progressive belief that MPs are doing too well out of growing inequality”. I thought it might be worth point out just how well. The latest Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) shows that gross median full-time pay (the level that half of full-time employees are above, and half are below) is £479. In the 90th percentile, gross weekly full-time pay is above £946. Based on a salary of £64,700, MPs are taking home around £1,244 a week gross. This therefore puts them well within the top decile – according to Stumbling and Mumbling MPs are within the top three per cent of earners in the country. I don’t want to preach – doubtless there are public and private sector employees earning far more, MPs may well not be getting their relative worth, there are times historically when wages have been higher and the accelerating gap between rich and poor is by no means a problem that MPs bear all responsibility for. And I suspect no MP is just in it for the money. Some undoubtedly could earn more elsewhere. Anyone who has any dealings with conscientious MPs will know that it can be hard work with long hours, weekend surgeries and huge amounts of often dispiriting casework. But they should not forget that, by most of their constituents’ standards, they are pretty well off.