We are currently in a time of stress, and fear, and turmoil. People are out of work, or in the chaos of still being essential workers. In addition to the concerns over what the world is now and what it will be after, there are a lot of political ramifications to consider.
And that is where the topic in our title got me SO annoyed that I finally caved and said, “Yep, it is time to start talking politics on this website.”
What got me to the point was the Reuters factchecking article about this, where they clarified that MPs were not “rewarding themselves” with £10,000 in Work from Home Expenses.
Which, I get. Yes, there was an image going around on Facebook, where it said the word “rewarding”, and, yes, “rewarding” isn’t the correct term. So, sure, technically this isn’t correct.
But British MPs do not need £10,000 to set themselves up to work from home.
First and foremost, it shouldn’t cost £10,000 to set oneself up to work from home. I do it and it didn’t cost that much. Plenty of people do it, and do not have the luxury of £10,000 to spare for such a setup. So, can someone justify why each MP needs £10,000? Can you itemize that? What could they possibly need a full £10,000 for? Shouldn’t their salaries cover the expenses needed to do their jobs at home?
Because it’s also a bit cheeky to insist that they need that much money to set up a home offie when most MPs—who all earn more than most workers in the UK do—are constantly telling taxpayers to tighten their belts in order to survive.
The average salary for an MP as of 1 April 2019 was £79,468 per annum. This doesn’t factor in that MPs can—and do—write off a lot of expenses to the taxpayer. For the average citizen in 2019, the overall average salary was approximately £30,000. I stress: that’s the AVERAGE. That means you have lots of people making considerably LESS than £30,000 per year. So, again, I really need MPs to explain why they need an extra £10,000 to set up their home office.
They might not be “rewarding” themselves with it, but they certainly can’t justify a need for that much extra money when they’re already making on average £50,000 more than those who they’re meant to be serving. If you want to argue that people should survive on a living making £50,000 less than you per year, than you cannot justify an extra £10,000 just for a home office. The taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for your personal computer room.
And that’s not even mentioning about what people in the healthcare industry are earning right now, when they’re the ones in the heat of this crisis. I’ve seen the starting salary for a nurse on the NHS range from £20,000 to £27,000 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). In that pay range, those workers wouldn’t be considered valid for visa sponsorship since it makes less than £35,000. And the government constantly votes down pay raises for these people—because, as they often state, “there is no magic money tree”.
But somehow they always manage to find a money tree when MPs need a pay raise; or when Buckingham Palace needs an upgrade; or now when they need all the latest digital technologies to get them set up to work at home.
This also follows after you’ve had MPs calling for football players to take pay decreases during this time of financial crisis. And while I understand the request for that, why aren’t MPs volunteering to take pay cuts? If you’re asking others to take pay cuts to mitigate financial strains being caused by this pandemic, and you’re going so far as to make them look bad for not taking cuts, why aren’t you volunteering to take the cuts? Especially when they’re already making a substantial amount more than those on the front lines of this pandemic?
Instead, they’re insisting the taxpayers finance their work from home expenses, while heaping blame on others for the financial struggle in the UK right now.
And that’s an echo of what Gary Lineker said in an interview: “Football is always an easy target but where are the big businessmen, where are the CEOs of these enormous companies, what are they doing at the moment?”
Listen, I’m not a football fan (soccer, to my fellow Americans), but he’s got a point. Sure, many celebrities and sport stars can take pay cuts to help ease the stress of what’s going on during this crisis, but that shouldn’t blind people to what massive corporations, multi-billionaires, and your own MPs are doing during this crisis to help financially—or, rather, what they aren’t doing.
The kilt in the Lassie Liberty image comes from Tartanista, and it's their Honor of Scotland kilt.