We have all been following the MPs' expenses issue and, as an elected member of the London Assembly and a local councillor, I am certainly very happy that my salary and expenses should be clearly available – after all, the public (i.e. voters) pay for our salaries.
However, surely the next point to move to is that all those in receipt of a salary package from the public purse should have these published. This would include senior employees at our town halls, civil servants, NHS, senior teachers, the police, Transport for London employees and so forth. It is said that of those in work, over 50% work for the state. So whilst we are all paying these salaries, it would be a very good idea for the amounts to be published.
One of the results of the investigation into MPs' expense claims has been to bring their salaries into focus. But how does this compare to senior civil servants and to those in charge at your local town hall?
Next week we shall have the opportunity to vote for the Members of the European Parliament and to quote the think tank Open Europe, their research shows that, in total, MEPs are entitled to expenses and allowances of £363,000 a year. This includes a £261 daily subsistence allowance and £45,648 in general office expenses – even though they are provided with offices in Brussels and Strasbourg. This equates to £1,816,250 per MEP over a five year term and no receipts are required.
The BBC, meanwhile, reveals that it pays 339 employees over £100,000 a
year and some have far more generous packages (all paid for from the
In London, the Mayor, Boris Johnson has called for greater transparency – and his salary, those of his senior team and all London Assembly members’ salaries together with gifts or hospitality received and their expenses are published on the GLA website.
So whilst we have this current demand for transparency and accountability, let’s use the goodwill to insist that those in receipt of wages from the public purse, in high level positions, should publish their employment packages. For example, I think that many people would be surprised to learn that the costs of salary packages – including pensions – for senior executives in our local town hall are more generous than for our elected MPs.
I am hoping that the readers of ConservativeHome will take up this challenge and drive this campaign for transparency and accountability for all those in the public sector to disclose their remuneration. This would enable all of us to see how our taxpayers' money is being spent.
This surge of public opinion for transparency would reveal the amount of our money that is being used to fund public employees and would, as a side issue, put some of the current debate on the costs of MPs into perspective.
MPs stand for election and we can vote for them or not; however, who are all the others that we pay for accountable to?