Austerity is a keyword for the British Coalition government of the UK. In the Autumn Statement, Wednesday, Osborne announced further cuts to the Welfare Budget and various government departments. He failed to mention that UK politicians could soon be receiving an 11% pay hike, taking the average annual salary to £74,000.
On top of that ministers receive expenses, such as allowances toward the upkeep of second homes. Claiming an allowance for the upkeep of a second home was aimed at addressing income shortcomings of politicians who, for example, lived in Sheffield in the north of England but needed to stay over in London during parliamentary sessions.
Recently it was revealed that some politicians were also claiming large sums of money toward gas and electricity costs of their second homes. In early November the Sunday Mirror reported that 340 MPs made expense claims for energy bills for their second homes, some as much as £5,822 for one year!
Remember the current UK government implemented a cruel Bedroom Tax aimed at limiting the housing benefit people received if they had eve one spare bedroom in their home. Yet MPs claim huge sums of money as second home allowances, for houses that have many rooms empty, some all of the time.
Some MPs screwed the expenses system and abused claims. One or two ended up in jail. There were demands that the system was changed but did that happen? In reality, no it did not. The goalposts were moved a little but the expense system remained flawed.
What the Sunday Mirror investigation also revealed was that millionaire Tory, Nadhim Zahawi, claimed a staggering £5,822 in 12 months, toward energy bills for his £1million constituency home in a sprawling 31-acre estate, more than four times the average household energy bill. He later apologized for this "oversight".
The damning report continued: "Nadhim Zahawi and his wife run a riding school and he is a director of a number of firms. He also owns a £5million detached home in London. The Stratford-upon-Avon MP even boasts on his website of his “achievements” on the Energy Bill Committee at improving “energy efficiency measures to homes and businesses”."
Brits are sinking under the rapidly increasing cost of gas and electricity and very little help is available to ease the situation. Downing Street have offered advice - wear a jumper if you are cold!
BBC News reported late Saturday that: MPs are set to receive an 11% pay rise when the the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority publishes its final recommendations on salaries next week. The rise is due after the 2015 general election, taking pay to £74,000. Will news that "the watchdog is also expected to announce a squeeze on the resettlement grants that MPs are given when they leave Parliament" make the price hike more acceptable to Brits? Probably not.
The condems, Conservative led coalition with the Liberal Democrats, have inflicted pay freezes on some workers and limited pay rises to 1% for too many others in the UK.
Sunday Sky News carried two reports which may help you decide whether an increase in MPs pay is acceptable.
1 -The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) will unveil its final proposals next week - including boosting MPs' salaries by £7,600 to £74,000 from 2015. It is expected to try to quell criticism by announcing a tougher-than-expected squeeze on MPs' pensions in a bid to cancel out the £4.6m cost to the taxpayer. All three main party leaders have condemned the increase at a time of national austerity, with Labour's Ed Miliband and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg pledging to shun the extra cash.
2 - For the first time, there are more people in working families living below the poverty line (6.7 million) than in workless and retired families combined (6.3 million), a report has found. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation found that almost 13 million Britons are now living in poverty, having suffered a "sustained" and "unprecedented" fall in their living standards. The social policy research charity found people remaining in poverty despite moving in and out of work, with some facing "very severe hardship". At the same time the study finds that the support on offer to people who fall on hard times is "increasingly threadbare".
Like charity, austerity begins at home, and, unless MPs excessive expenses are cut to the bone, politicians will be viewed as living off the fat of the land at the expense of the people they serve.