A cabinet minister told me a while back that he expected no pay rise for any government ministers this year. Gordon Brown imposed a pay freeze last year as a gesture of austerity.
This week a No 10 spokesman said that it was too early for the prime minister to make the decision for the coming financial year.
Two recent developments make me think it more likely than ever:
1] Britain’s most senior civil servant on Saturday told the Telegraph there will be no bonuses for top mandarins in 2009.
2] Mr Brown has launched a review of why MPs still receive final salary pensions which are now seen increasingly as a luxury in the private sector. (It would be out of character for MPs to vote to destroy their own pension pots – but they could agree to changing the system for new members).
I’ve found the minutes from the daily briefing by the prime minister’s spokesman last June when the 2008/9 ministerial pay freeze was announced. You can see the reasoning here.
(“Put that, in the past, senior members of the Cabinet had argued against this sort of restraint and that they had a right to get the rate for the job they did, the PMS said that the Cabinet had taken the decision they had because of the particular importance of public sector pay restraint this year.”)
Given that no one is worrying about inflation any more (at least not in the short-term) this particular logic no longer seems to apply. But job losses and pay freezes are widespread in UK plc right now. I would be amazed if the PM doesn’t repeat this trick to convey the message: “We feel your pain”.
I should mention that cabinet members are already on £142,000 a year (as is the Speaker). Here is a list of all salaries for various ministerial positions.
I’m now away for a week – leaving you in the capable hands of Alex Barker