NEWBURY MP Laura Farris says it would be “insensitive and inappropriate” to increase MPs’ pay by over £3,000 next year when people across Berkshire are struggling financially during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has recommended that MPs’ basic annual salary should rise by 3.1 per cent to £81,932 in April 2021.

The independent body, which is responsible for overseeing MPs’ pay, says the increase reflects the average pay rise for public sector workers.

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It is running a consultation on plans for the pay rise and it will make a final decision in December, but a number of MPs are reluctant to accept the increase.

Ms Farris said: “While I understand IPSA has a statutory duty to update MPs’ pay in the first year of each new Parliament, I would question the appropriateness of any pay rise to go ahead under the current economic climate.

“No pay rise has yet been confirmed, with a final decision to be announced by IPSA in December, but I will be submitting to the consultation to express my view that any uplift at the current time would be insensitive and inappropriate to the many hard working families across Berkshire whose jobs are at risk due to the impact of coronavirus.”

In West Berkshire, the number of people claiming unemployment benefits reached 4,010 in September 2020 – that’s 50 per cent higher than the previous year.

More than 21,200 people in West Berkshire have also been furloughed during the pandemic, but the scheme ends later this month.

IPSA says it uses the Office of National Statistics (ONS) Average Weekly Earnings figure for public sector workers to calculate the pay rise for MPs and it has used the same calculation for several years.

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Richard Lloyd, IPSA’s interim chair, said: “We act independently of parliament and have a statutory duty to review MPs’ pay in the first year of each parliament.

“We carried out a major review of MPs’ pay with consultations in 2012, 2013 and 2015, and technical adjustments in 2018.

“Given the huge economic uncertainties arising from the coronavirus pandemic, we do not think it is right to depart from this approach now.”