South Tyneside MPs urged to refuse proposed pay rise

'DON'T TAKE IT' ... campaigner Greenwell Jewitt.
'DON'T TAKE IT' ... campaigner Greenwell Jewitt.

SOUTH Tyneside’s two MPs were today urged to “show solidarity with the working man” and reject a proposed 11 per cent pay increase.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) wants to raise sala-

ries by £7,600 to £74,000 in 2015.

It’s a move that has raised the hackles of many public sector workers who have faced pay freezes in the past three years.

Today, South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck and her Jarrow counterpart Stephen Hepburn were asked to show “solidarity with the working man” – by refusing to accept the pay hike should it come their way.

The pleas came from Greenwell Jewitt, the founder of Forum 50, the borough’s Older Peoples Parliament, and Coun George Elsom, an Independent and leader of the council’s opposition.

Meanwhile, Mrs Lewell-Buck has reiterated her opposition to the pay hike – but is not suggesting she would refuse it. And Mr Hepburn has declined to make any comment on the matter, despite Gazette requests to his office.

Mr Jewitt said: “MPs have a good salary. In addition to the £60,000-odd, they receive support for meals, transport and much more.

“What an example it would be if they could show solidarity with the working man and refuse to accept this rise.

“Mr Hepburn should have a view on this. I saw a dustman out in his constituency in Cotswolds Lane the other day in the freezing cold.

“He’s worried about his job. That’s the type of person we need to support, the type of person who has not had a pay rise in years.”

His view was echoed by Coun Elsom, who represents the Cleadon Park ward on South Tyneside Council.

He said: “I would certainly urge our MPs to take this course of action, and show solidarity with our public sector workers.

“Last year, the council’s cabinet accepted 20 per cent rises, so it’s not unprecedented. I’m hoping they would agree to refuse the rise, but not expecting it.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “I have not dissected the full report from the Ipsa. It’s a large document, but I’m aware that it says the impact will be cost-neutral.

“I remain against the increase and I’m in full agreement with the party leadership that it is just not appropriate at this time.

“Ed Miliband is looking for a cross-party action on this and has written to both David Cameron and, I believe, Mr Clegg.”

The body which sets MPs’ salaries has defended its plan to give them the 11 per cent rise, claiming this will not cost the taxpayer “a penny more” once other changes are taken into account.

The proposed package will include a “one-off” pay rise after which MPs’ pay would be linked to average earnings.

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul