A backbench politician has lamented the paltry salary for MPs – saying there’s no way they could afford childcare without “outside interests.”
MPs are paid a salary of £81,932 a year, but second jobs have been in the spotlight since the resignation of former North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson in a lobbying scandal.
Fresh scrutiny has been applied after it was revealed former Attorney General Sir Geoffrey Cox was being paid hundreds of thousands of pounds advising the British Virgin Islands’ government in a corruption investigation.
Opening the door to vested interests
Labour has pledged to clamp down on outside jobs in certain professions.
The party announced that “MPs can’t profit from their office and open the door to vested interests”, without saying how this would be defined.
On the government side, trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan has backed plans to outlaw paid lobbying by MPs. Yet she supports the old notion that second jobs “bring a richness to our role”.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Isabel Hardman, author of Why We Get the Wrong Politicians, argues that the “richness” argument does not hold because two classes of MPs exist:
“Those in comfortable safe seats who have spare time for second jobs, versus those who represent marginals, spend their lives on the stump and incur much greater costs”.
Many of these second jobs, she says, “are well-paid directorships helping companies navigate parliament”.
“We can’t afford a nanny” argument
Several people on social media have also pointed out that the “no money for children” argument doesn’t stick in a country where the average wage is £50,000 lower than what MPs earn.
It comes on the back of research that shows one in two children will be affected by the cut to Universal Credit (UC) on average over the next month.
According to government figures, over 3.5 million children in the UK are living in households that receive UC payments.
One single working mother said she was already “feeling the pinch” and was concerned she would further struggle to feed her eight-year-old daughter when the uplift was removed.
She said: “What £20 means to families like mine is being able to afford proper healthy food – not just cheap processed food.
“It means having the heater on for two hours a day so we’re not freezing.
“This cut is going to be devastating for families such as ours.”