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Pay for MPs' staff
FOI064
Disclosure Date:30 Sep 2010
Categories: MPs' STAFFING
Exemptions Applied: None
Request
  1. How did IPSA calculate what it deems to be the appropriate level for MPs' staffing budget for financial year 2010/11?
  2. What visits were made to which MPs' offices to understand how MPs' offices function in terms of staffing structure, staff responsibility, division of work, etc.?
  3. What effort was made to ensure that the offices considered as case studies reflected the diversity of MPs' offices, in terms of geography, workload, MP's Parliamentary role…
  4. What consideration was given to the matter of remuneration for interns prior to the level of the staffing budget being set?
  5. What consideration was given to the impact of the IPSA payscales on MPs' ability to stay within their staffing budget when recruiting staff?
  6.  
  7. Since 7th May 2010, how many staff contracts have been rejected by IPSA because the salary was set below that specified by IPSA payscales? 
  8. Since 7th May 2010, how many staff contracts have been rejected by IPSA because the salary was set above that specified by IPSA payscales?
  9. Since 7th May 2010, how many staff contracts have been accepted by IPSA in which the salary was not within the correct IPSA payscale?
  10. Since 7th May 2010, what measures have been taken to ensure that job descriptions lodged for MPs' staff accurately reflect the work undertaken by members of staff?
  11. Currently, how many staff of MPs, including those on House of Commons contracts lodged prior to 7th May, are not being paid according to the correct IPSA payscale?

 

Response
  1. How did IPSA calculate what it deems to be the appropriate level for MPs' staffing budget for financial year 2010/11?

The new staffing expenditure budget is based on a calculation of all the costs associated with the employment of 3.5 full time equivalent staff members in a typical office setup.  The figure of 3.5 members of staff originated in the Review Body on Senior Salaries: Review of Parliamentary Pay, Pensions and Allowances 2007, this being the most recent occasion this issue was reviewed, and being the basis of the figure adopted by the House of Commons in the last Green Book.

The report recommended that the Staffing Expenditure ceiling – that was based on each MP having three members of staff – be increased to allow MPs to employ up to 3.5 full-time (or equivalent) members of staff. This was adopted by the House and formed the basis of their calculations for the staffing expenditure allowance.

IPSA also adopted this recommendation by the SSRB, continuing the formulation used by the House. The staffing budget set out in the IPSA Scheme of £109,548 includes the salary costs, and employer contributions to National Insurance and pensions, of:

  1. one caseworker;
  2. one researcher;
  3. one senior researcher/parliamentary assistant; and
  4. half a junior secretary.

Once the staffing levels were agreed the House figures were used to develop pay ranges for each of them, based on the pay ranges for 2008-09, which was the most up to date data available.

These were uplifted by 2.9%[1] to obtain figures for 2009-10. Taking the mid-point of each pay grade, the 2009-10 costs were then uplifted by 1.4%[2] to obtain the pay grade for 2010-11.

This gave the following figures:

The budget of £109,548 2010-11 compares with a budget of £103,812 for 2009-10. The latter did not include pensions contributions, but it did include a number of categories of expenditure, which now come under General Administration Expenditure rather than staffing.

  1. What visits were made to which MPs' offices to understand how MPs' offices function in terms of staffing structure, staff responsibility, division of work, etc.?

We do not hold this specific information. When developing the MPs’ Expenses Scheme, the IPSA Implementation Team, seconded from the Ministry of Justice, organised meetings with various stakeholders. IPSA does not have a record of meetings held with individual MPs in their offices. We do, however, have records of the consultation meetings with MPs and related groups. These can be found on the IPSA website (www.parliamentarystandards.org.uk) under the Publications Section of the website.

  1. What effort was made to ensure that the offices considered as case studies reflected the diversity of MPs' offices, in terms of geography, workload, MP's Parliamentary role…

There are two budgets for Constituency Office Rental Expenditure, one for London Area MPs, capped at £12,761, and one for non-London Area MPs, capped at £10,663.  These figures were derived from details of 2009/10 expenditure provided to us by the Department of Resources in the House of Commons, and compared against details of expenditure provided to the Members’ Estimates Committee for its 2008 Report.

  1. What consideration was given to the matter of remuneration for interns prior to the level of the staffing budget being set?

In the first edition of the MPs’ Expenses Scheme, published in March 2010, IPSA stated that it would only pay expenses to MPs for the services of interns if the intern had been given a contract of employment which complied with a standard contract drawn up by IPSA.  If the intern had a contract of employment, his or her expenses would come out of the Travel and Subsistence Budget, as they did for all staff travel and subsistence expenses. 

Following a public consultation from 16 June to 7 July 2010, IPSA revised the expenses scheme to allow MPs to claim for incidental expenses incurred by volunteers and interns who do not have contract of employment.  Such expenses, which are limited to reasonable travel, food, and non-alcoholic beverages, are charged to the MP’s Staffing Budget.  No change was made to the Staffing Budget when this amendment was made.

  1. What consideration was given to the impact of the IPSA payscales on MPs' ability to stay within their staffing budget when recruiting staff?

The IPSA payscales and job descriptions are broadly comparable with those of the House of Commons, adjusted to reflect market rates for comparable jobs. As the answer to question 1 shows, the staffing budget calculation was also based on House of Commons payscales, with appropriate uplifts.

  1. Since 7th May 2010, how many staff contracts have been rejected by IPSA because the salary was set below that specified by IPSA payscales?

We do not collect this specific information. 

Please note that staff contracts that existed prior to 7 May 2010 are honoured irrespective of where they fit in IPSA payscales; MPs must notify IPSA of these exceptions. New contracts must fit the proposed IPSA payscales.

In general, where a proposed staff salary has been below the IPSA pay scale, we have discussed the situation with the MP and an adjustment has been to bring the salary within the pay scale.

  1. Since 7th May 2010, how many staff contracts have been rejected by IPSA because the salary was set above that specified by IPSA payscales?

We do not collect this specific information.  In general, where a proposed staff salary has been above the IPSA pay scale, we have discussed the situation with the MP and an adjustment has been to bring the salary within the pay scale.

  1. Since 7th May 2010, how many staff contracts have been accepted by IPSA in which the salary was not within the correct IPSA payscale?

We do not collect this specific information. In general, where a proposed staff salary is not within the correct IPSA pay scale, we have discussed the situation with the MP and an adjustment has been to bring the salary within the pay scale.

  1. Since 7th May 2010, what measures have been taken to ensure that job descriptions lodged for MPs' staff accurately reflect the work undertaken by members of staff?

We do not collect this information. It is the responsibility of all MPs to ensure that Members’ staff are covered by employment contracts which are consistent with IPSA’s model employment contracts and paid in accordance with the model job descriptions, salary ranges and guidance notes issued by IPSA.

  1. Currently, how many staff of MPs, including those on House of Commons contracts lodged prior to 7th May, are not being paid according to the correct IPSA payscale?

With regard to contracts lodged prior to 7 May 2010 MPs have informed IPSA of 776 exceptions to the IPSA payscales. Any new contracts are expected to be consistent with the IPSA payscales.

 

[1] 2.9% is the ONS Public Sector Wage Inflation rate.

[2] This figure of 1.4% was taken from the House of Commons pay increases for 2010-2011, brought in by the House to cover the period from 1 April 2010 to 6 May 2010 when they continued to pay staff salaries.