MPs have been asked to defend an annual pay-rise of 1.3 per cent, at a time when disabled people will see their benefits frozen for a year.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has announced that all MPs will receive a pay hike of 1.3 per cent in April, on top of a rise of more than 10 per cent announced last July.
But the latest pay increase comes at a time when the government is enforcing a freeze on working-age benefits.
IPSA said that the “annual adjustment” to MPs’ basic pay for 2016-17 would be an increase of 1.3 per cent, bringing the overall salary to £74,962 from 1 April 2016.
The annual adjustments of working-age benefit rates were decided last October, and are based on the CPI (consumer price index) rate for September, which showed that measure of inflation at minus 0.1 per cent.
CPI has since risen to 0.2 per cent in December, and is likely to rise higher over the next few months.
This zero per cent increase, which will come into force in April, is separate to a freeze on many other working-age benefits, which will last until 2020 and was announced by chancellor George Osborne in last year’s summer budget.
This freeze did not apply to benefits such as disability living allowance (DLA), personal independence payment (PIP) and the support group component of employment and support allowance (ESA).
But the government’s decision to shadow last September’s CPI means that working-age benefits including DLA, PIP and the ESA support group component will be set at exactly the same rate in 2016-17 as they were in 2015-16.
And it comes when the government is also trying to push through a £1,500-a-year cut in payments to new ESA claimants placed in the work-related activity group, through the welfare reform and work bill, despite opposition from the House of Lords.
A spokesman for Disabled People Against Cuts said: “The MPs’ pay rise at the time of an effective zero increase for claimants is an insult.
“Awarding themselves yet another big pay rise while at the same time voting disabled people into starvation over the ESA cut feels like a message is being sent out from Westminster.
“And that message to disabled people is: ‘We don’t care, we don’t care about you, we don’t care how you perceive us and we don’t care what harm we do to you.’”
Disability News Service approached the disabled Tory MP Paul Maynard (pictured) for his views on the pay-rise and the benefit freeze, but he refused to comment.
But Angus Robertson, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, said he believed MPs should donate their pay-rises to charity.
He said: “Now is a time of austerity and huge financial difficulties for far too many people.
“It is not right for MPs to have a pay-rise in these circumstances.
“As IPSA has gone ahead with these changes, I think it would be right to use the funds to support good causes.”
Debbie Abrahams, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, also said she did not want to benefit personally from any pay-rise.
She said: “Although MPs’ pay is now decided by an independent body, IPSA, personally I believe that any decision on MPs’ pay must be consistent with what is happening to nurses, teachers and others in the public sector, people in receipt of social security, as well as conditions in the private sector.
“I didn’t enter politics based on the salaries MPs are paid and don’t think it is appropriate that we should get a pay rise when so many of our constituents are struggling to make ends meet.
“I have always stated that I will not benefit personally from any increase and I propose to put the extra money towards ensuring that my staff are properly recompensed for their hard work.
“If there are any funds remaining, it has been a long-standing wish of mine to establish a community fund, for example, to expand the summer school I run for young people.”