WHO would have thunk it! MLAs are spending a wee fortune to have someone tell them how much they should be paid.
Now stay with us here, much as you might feel the urge to throw things around and stamp your feet please keep calm and remember there’s always BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show to ring up and harangue.
Last year, the Assembly, not wanting to appear greedy, passed a law that said if and when they set up an independent panel to decide how much they get paid, they had to absolutely, without question, accept what it said.
So despite all their concerns about quangos and arm’s length bodies, MLAs have created a quango to decide how much they will get paid.
The cost to taxpayers will be £100,000+ and for that we’ll get three part-time ‘panellists’ at a cost of £19,000. Doing some simple maths that’s about £6,333.33 per panellist per year for what will probably amount to a day or two per month. Who will these panellists be? We are willing to bet they will be drawn from the hordes of non-executive directors floating from quango to quango in the twilight years of their earning.
The rest of the money will be £60,000 for support staff and £20,000 for specialist advice – for that read management consultant!
According to a BBC report, after the first year, annual costs will drop from £100,000 to £15,000 per year. We haven’t a clue why - although once they’ve said how much the men and women on the Hill are to get in their pay packets, what else will they be doing?
Now, almost certainly this panel will recommend a pay rise, given that MLAs for a long time have noted that colleagues in Scotland and Wales get loads more dosh than they do.
And the genius thing is that they have to, no doubt with heavy heart and much protestation, accept the pay rise: because they passed a law to that effect.
But before you all go “well they work hard and £43,000 isn’t a lot for the work they do” think again.
A fare whack of the MLAs get an additional salary, if they are “office holders”. This additional salary ranges from just over £2K up to a whopping £66k for the FM and dFM.
Ministers get an additional £37k and chairs of committees get over £11k.
No doubt the independent panel will up those rates too.
Before you go any further, have a wee think about the expenses they receive too. For driving into work they get 40p a mile, which means some members pocket several thousand pounds a year. And cyclists aren’t left out, they get 20p per mile for, well we’re not exactly sure what they get it for.
Sure and then there’s the double jobbers...
Let’s face it, being an MLA is hard work, but is it any harder work than a nurse or a teacher? Yeah that is simplistic, but it’s hard not to think that way when the MLAs are going quango crazy to get a pay rise.