Review Panel Makes Radical Changes To MLA Salaries And Expenses

23 March 2016

The Independent Financial Review Panel has announced radical changes to MLA salaries, expenses and pensions that will take effect following the Assembly election on 5 May 2016.

“The panel has made radical changes to expenses that will provide professional, fair and equitable support for each MLA, and will enhance public confidence in our politicians. Our decisions set the rates for salaries, pensions and expenses to support each MLA and their work for the next five years. The panel expects that these decisions will amount to savings of between £1.5 million and £2.0 million in the Assembly’s budget over the next five years,” said Pat McCartan, Chairman of the panel.

The major changes are the scrapping of the current systems for office cost expenses and for mileage and subsistence, which will be replaced with separate capped amounts for travel, office rents and rates, and for employment of support staff. Salaries for MLAs, Ministers, and some office holders, will increase slightly based on inflation being more than 1%, but will be partly offset by higher pension contributions.

The main points are:
MLA’s salary shall increase by £1,000 to £49,000 and by £500 each April if inflation (CPI for previous September) is greater than 1%.

MLA Pension contributions will rise from a minimum of 7% to 9%, and be based upon 1/50th for each year of career average earnings. There will be some protection to retain 1/40th for those over 55 on April 1, 2015.

Rent and rates for constituency offices will be capped at £8,500 (maximum rent allowed) plus 40% for rates. There will be lower amounts for shared offices with other politicians and only one constituency office will be funded. All payments are conditional on full compliance with new signage requirements within three months.
MLA’s who rent offices from their political parties or connected individuals and groups will no longer be eligible to reclaim expenses for rent and rates.

Travel allowances are fixed for each constituency for each MLA, and will vary from £850 per year to £7,500, depending on distance from Stormont. To qualify for the full allowance, MLAs must attend Parliament Buildings on at least 72 days a year and record their attendance. A deduction of 1% of the allowance shall be made for each day’s attendance less than 72 days.

Employment of Support Staff. MLAs shall be able to claim an annual allowance of up to £50,000 for employing up to two full-time or equivalent part-time staff in their constituency office or at Stormont. ERNI and a new employer pension cost of 5% shall be paid in addition to the £50,000 cap.

A new salary structure will be introduced to ensure that no member of support staff is paid less than the Living Wage Foundation living wage of £8.25 per hour, rising each year to meet the £9.20 per hour minimum set by the Chancellor for 2020. Support staff may be eligible for annual performance uplifts of £250 a year to reach the top of their salary scale.

Recruitment. All future vacancies for MLA support staff shall be filled on the merit principle, requiring open competition.

Full details are available below:
The Report on Northern Ireland Assembly Members Salaries Allowances Expenses and Pensions March 2016
Assembly Members (Salaries and Expenses) Determination (Northern Ireland) 2016

NOTE TO EDITORS
The panel was established was by the Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act 2011 in July 2011, to independently set the pay and allowances of members of, and office holders in, the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The chairman of the panel is
 Patrick McCartan, CBE, MSc (Dist), FCIPD. The other members are: Dr Henrietta Campbell CB, MD, FRCP and
 Alan McQuillan OBE, BSc (Hons), MBA.

For further information and to arrange interviews, please contact media consultant Austin Hunter, on 07801 738604 or Angela Hunter, Birdsong Communications, on 07970 294406.

Consultation Launched on Assembly Members’ Salaries and Office Holder Allowances

27 MARCH 2015

The Independent Financial Review Panel (‘the Panel’) has today launched a consultation on the salaries paid to Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the allowances paid to Assembly Office Holders.

The Panel’s first Determination was published in March 2012 and was subsequently revised in December 2012 to clarify the definition of “connected persons”. The revised Determination set out the level of salaries and allowances of Assembly Members for the remainder of the current Assembly mandate.  The Panel is now considering the detail for their next Determination which will cover the succeeding parliamentary mandate from May 2016.

Speaking today, Mr Pat McCartan, the Chairperson for IFRP highlighted: “I am keen to hear views from the people of Northern Ireland, Members and other interested parties on the matters raised within the consultation document. We [the Panel] remain committed to ensuring that the rules and finances governing Members’ salaries and allowances remain fair, workable, transparent and represent value for money”.

The consultation is open until 5pm on Friday 29th May 2015 and the full consultation document is available on the IFRP website. Please ensure that you paste the following link into your web browser http://nia1.me/salaries

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

  • The Panel was established was established by the Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act 2011 in July 2011 to independently set the pay and allowances of Members of, and Office Holders in, the Northern Ireland Assembly.  Their full remit includes a range of responsibilities relating to:
  • MLAs’ Salaries;
  • Additional Allowances paid to Office Holders within the Assembly and Executive (eg Ministers, Committee Chairs, the Speaker, etc);
  • Pensions;
  • Office Costs Allowance paid to MLAs to support their work in constituencies; and
  • Travel expenses.
  • Determinations made by the Panel are not subject to approval by the Assembly or the Assembly Commission;
  • The Panel are currently in the process of analysing the findings of their first three consultation exercises which relate to the Assembly Members’ Pension Scheme, Assembly Members’ Constituency Office Costs and the employment of Assembly Members’ staff;
  • The Panel also initiated a short 4 week consultation exercise on ‘Prior Disclosure’ which closed on 27 March 2015.
  • The Panel Chair and members are as follows:

    Chair
    Patrick McCartan, CBE, MSc (Dist), FCIPD.

    Members
    Dr Henrietta Campbell CB, MD, FRCP
    Alan McQuillan OBE BSc (Hons) MBA

For more information on the Independent Review Panel, publications and detail of its work visit www.ifrp.org.uk

For more information and media enquiries please contact:

The Independent Financial Review Panel
Room 241
Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont
Belfast
BT4 3XX

Tel: 028 9052 1930 or 028 9052 5938
Email: info@ifrp.org.uk

Consultation Launched on Prior Disclosure of Interests

27 FEBRUARY 2015  

The Independent Financial Review Panel has today launched a consultation exercise to take the views of individuals and organisations on the Prior Disclosure of Interests by Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs).

The Independent Financial Review Panel (‘the Panel’) was established in July 2011 to independently set the Pay and Allowances of Members of, and Office Holders in, the NI Assembly.  Their remit includes a range of subjects, for example:

  • MLAs’ Salaries;
  • Pensions;
  • Office Costs Allowance paid to MLAs to support their work in constituencies;
  • Travel expenses; and
  • Additional Allowances paid to Office Holders within the Assembly and Executive (eg Ministers, Committee Chairs, the Speaker, etc).

The Panel’s first Determination was published in March 2012 and was subsequently revised in December 2012 to clarify the definition of “connected persons”. The revised Determination set out the level of salaries and allowances of Assembly Members for the remainder of the current Assembly mandate which at that time was due to end in May 2015.

The Panel normally publishes one Determination for each Assembly, setting out its assessment of what monies should be paid to members and any restrictions on how they can be paid or spent. The Panel has a duty to keep this Determination under review and on analysis have decided that a number of changes are necessary.

The Panel are of the view that having reviewed the contents of the March 2012 Determination as amended, recent information coming to light and continuing analysis by the Panel have demonstrated that exceptional circumstances, necessitating the issue of a revised Determination, have emerged.

The Panel would hope to support the effective administration of their proposals through the introduction of changes at the beginning of the next financial year 2015/16 and are seeking the views of interested parties and stakeholders.  The Panel considers that it is the public interest and in the interests of the effective administration of Members expenses that these changes come into effect from 1 April 2015.

The Panel is fully independent and its decisions are not subject to approval by the Assembly. Members’ salaries have remained largely unchanged since they were determined in 2000. Members’ allowances were determined in 2010 and the current rates of pension contributions were set in April 2009.

Information about the consultation process is available on the Panel’s website (www.ifrp.org.uk) or by telephone from the Secretary to the Panel (TN 90521930).

You may access the Consultation on Prior Disclosure of Interests document at this link.

The deadline for submitting comments is 5pm on Friday 27 March 2015.

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

The Independent Financial Review Panel (the Panel) was established by the Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act 2011. Determinations made by the Panel are not subject to approval by the Assembly or the Assembly Commission.

The Panel is currently working on a revised Determination for introduction at the beginning of the 5th Assembly.

The Panel Chair and members are as follows:

Chair

Patrick McCartan, CBE, MSc (Dist), FCIPD.

Members

Dr Henrietta Campbell CB, MD, FRCP

Alan McQuillan OBE BSc (Hons) MBA

For more information on the Independent Review Panel and its work visit

www.ifrp.org.uk

For more information please contact:

Independent Financial Review Panel
Room 241
Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont
Belfast
BT4 3XX
Tel: 028 9052 1930
Email: info@ifrp.org.uk

Consultation on The Employment of Assembly Members’ Staff

The Independent Financial Review Panel has today launched a consultation (.docx) exercise to take the views of individuals on the employment of Assembly Members’ staff.

The key proposals within this consultation document include clarity in the number of support staff to be allocated to an MLA. Definitive job descriptions with pay bands, maximum hours, and lastly the introduction of the merit principle to be used when MLAs’ are recruiting support staff to their constituency offices.

The Panel was established in July 2011 to determine a level of remuneration which reflects the responsibilities of Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and which does not deter, on financial grounds, people with the necessary commitment and ability from seeking election to the Assembly.

The Panel is also required to ensure that the expenses paid to MLAs to carry out their Assembly and constituency duties are set at the appropriate level.

The Panel is a completely independent body. Under the Act, the Panel controls members’ pay, allowances and pensions by issuing “Determinations” setting out its decisions. The Determinations are implemented by the Assembly Commission and the Secretariat. The Panel may make a Determination in relation to Members’ salaries, allowances, expenses and pensions once for each mandate. It is only in exceptional circumstances that the Panel can make more than one Determination in relation to a mandate. Once these Determinations have been issued, the Assembly is unable to amend them.

Information about the consultation process is available on the Panel’s website (www.ifrp.org.uk) or by telephone from the Secretary to the Panel (Telephone: 90521930).

The deadline for submitting comments is 5pm on Wednesday 11 March 2015.

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

The Independent Financial Review Panel was established by the Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act 2011. Determinations made by the Panel are not subject to approval by the Assembly or the Assembly Commission.

The Panel Chair and members are as follows:

Chair
Patrick McCartan, CBE, MSc (Dist), FCIPD

Members
Dr Henrietta Campbell CB, MD, FRCP
Alan McQuillan OBE BSc (Hons) MBA

For more information on the Independent Review Panel and its work visit
www.ifrp.org.uk

For more information please contact:

Tony Logue
Secretary
Independent Financial Review Panel
Room 241
Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont
Belfast
BT4 3XX

Tel: 028 9052 1930
Email: info@ifrp.org.uk

Consultation On Expenses For Assembly Members’ Constituency Office Rents Launched

The Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP) has today launched a consultation exercise to take the views of individuals and organisations on the level of expenses which can be claimed by Assembly Members to allow them to lease their constituency offices.

The IFRP was established in July 2011 to determine a level of remuneration which reflects the responsibilities of Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). The IFRP is also required to ensure that the expenses paid to MLAs to carry out their Assembly and constituency duties are set at the appropriate level. The Panel is fully independent and its decisions are not subject to approval by the Assembly.

A copy of the Assembly Members’ Constituency Office Rents Consultation Document and information about the consultation process is available on the IFRP website or by telephone from the Secretary to the Panel (Tel: 90521252).CONSULTATION-DOCUMENT-MEMBERS-CONSTITUENCY-OFFICE-RENTS

The deadline for submitting comments is 5pm on Friday 19 September 2014.

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

The Independent Financial Review Panel was established by the Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act 2011. Determinations made by the Panel are not subject to approval by the Assembly or the Assembly Commission.

The Panel Chair and members are as follows:

Chair
Patrick McCartan, CBE, MSc (Dist), FCIPD.

Members
Dr Henrietta Campbell CB, MD, FRCP
Alan McQuillan OBE BSc (Hons) MBA

Information on the Independent Review Panel can be found at ifrp.org.uk

For more information please contact:

Secretary
Independent Financial Review Panel
Room 24
Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont
Belfast
BT4 3XX

Tel: 028 9052 1252
Email: info@ifrp.org.uk

A summary of the Panel’s proposals in relation to constituency office leases is attached

PROPOSALS OF THE INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL REVIEW PANEL IN RESPECT OF ASSEMBLY MEMBERS’ CONSTITUENCY OFFICE LEASES

SUMMARY

 Current PositionProposal
1All constituency office leases should expire within four months after the end of a mandateAll constituency office leases should expire within one month after the end of a mandate
2MLAs can claim up to a maximum amount based on an independent valuation of the rental value of the office premises with a variation of a maximum of 10%, plus a further additional annual amount of £1600.There should be cap on the total amount of rent which an Assembly Member can claim for a constituency office or offices. This will be set by the Panel and will be based primarily on need which the Panel estimates to be up to 800 sq ft of office space.
3The ultimate financial beneficiary of rent paid for premises must be visible and resident, or if a company, registered, within the European Union. Responsibility for ensuring this lies with the MLA entering the lease agreement.Assembly Members will be required to declare the name of the ultimate financial beneficiary of rent paid for constituency offices and should also confirm that the ultimate financial beneficiary is not a connected person but is a resident, or if a company, is registered, within the European Union. The Panel is considering an absolute ban on renting premises from a connected person.
4A member is required to obtain approval before putting signage in place. A photograph of the signage must be submitted with a claim for payment. Assembly Members will not be eligible to claim expenses for any constituency office(s) which does not comply with the rules in the Financial Assistance to Members Handbook relating to signage.
5Currently MLAs are required to sign an annual declaration confirming that all statutory obligations regarding accessibility and health and safety in relation to their constituency offices are being met.Office Costs Expenses can only be claimed for constituency office rents if:
• they are accessible to all constituents, including those with disabilities, whether they travel on foot, by public transport or by car;
• they are open at times which are convenient to constituents;
• the opening hours are publicised, and
• the MLA’s contact details are publicised.

Assembly Members’ Salaries and Allowances For Extra Year Of Mandate

The Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP) has today published a Determination (PDF) which sets the salaries and Allowances of Assembly Members for the additional year of the current mandate.

The IFRP is permitted by legislation to publish one Determination for each Assembly mandate. The Determination published in March 2012 provided for Assembly Members’ salaries, allowances and pension for the period of the current mandate which at that time was scheduled to end in May 2015.

The Panel is permitted to make a further Determination in a mandate if there are exceptional circumstances. The recent extension of the length of the current and future mandates of the Northern Ireland Assembly from four years to five years means that the current mandate will now end in 2016. There are a number of provisions in the current Determination which will cease to apply after 31 March 2015 thus making it necessary in these “exceptional circumstances” to have a new Determination to cover the additional year of the mandate.

From 1 April 2015 to the end of the mandate, Members’ salaries and office holder allowances will remain at the current level; Office Costs Expenses will be reduced by a further 3% to £67,161. In the case of an Assembly Member who is also a Member of Parliament, Office Costs Expenses will be reduced from £8,655 to zero.

A copy of the Determination is available on the IFRP website: http://ifrp.org.uk/reports-and-determinations/ or by telephone from the Secretary to the Panel
(Tel: 90521252).

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

The Independent Financial Review Panel was established by the Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act 2011. Determinations made by the Panel are not subject to approval by the Assembly or the Assembly Commission.

The Panel Chair and members are as follows:

Chair
Patrick McCartan, CBE, MSc (Dist), FCIPD.

Members
Dr Henrietta Campbell CB, MD, FRCP
Alan McQuillan OBE BSc (Hons) MBA

Information on the Independent Review Panel can be found at
ifrp.org.uk

For more information please contact:

Georgie Campbell
Secretary
Independent Financial Review Panel
Room 239
Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont
Belfast
BT4 3XX

Tel: 028 9052 1252
Email: info@ifrp.org.uk

Consultation on Assembly Members’ Pension Scheme Launched

The Independent Financial Review Panel (IFRP) has today launched a consultation exercise to take the views of individuals and organisations on the Assembly Members’ Pension Scheme. Details of the current Pension Scheme are available at http://www.niassembly.gov.uk/Documents/Your_MLAs/Assembly-Members-Pension-Scheme-2012-22102012.PDF

The IFRP was established in July 2011 to determine a level of remuneration which reflects the responsibilities of Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). The IFRP is also required to ensure that the expenses paid to MLAs to carry out their Assembly and constituency duties are set at the appropriate level.  The Panel is fully independent and its decisions are not subject to approval by the Assembly.

A copy of the Assembly Members’ Pension Scheme Consultation Document and information about the consultation process is available on the IFRP website: (www.ifrp.org.uk) or by telephone from the Secretary to the Panel (Tel: 028 90521252).

The deadline for submitting comments is 5pm on Tuesday 8 April 2014.

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

The Independent Financial Review Panel was established by the Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act 2011. Determinations made by the Panel are not subject to approval by the Assembly or the Assembly Commission.

The Panel Chair and members are as follows:

Chair

Patrick McCartan, CBE, MSc (Dist), FCIPD.

Members

Dr Henrietta Campbell CB, MD, FRCP

Alan McQuillan OBE BSc (Hons) MBA

Below is a table summarising the proposed changes to the Assembly Members’ Pension Scheme.

NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY MEMBERS’ PENSION SCHEME REVIEW 2014
SUMMARY OF PROPOSED CHANGES

ProvisionCurrent positionProposed position with effect from 1 May 2016
Basis of schemeFinal Salary schemeCareer Average Scheme
Retirement ageAge 60Same as State Pension age or 65 whichever is higher
Transitional protectionNot applicableMLAs within 10 years of their retirement age on
1 April 2015 will have the option to remain in the existing Pension Scheme
MLAs contribution rates as a percentage of salary 7% for an accrual rate of 1/50th

12.5% for an accrual rate of 1/40th
An appropriate percentage which will generate an accrual rate of 1/50th of a member’s career average salary.*
Death in service benefits3 x annual pensionable pay

Survivor pension of 5/8ths of annual pension
2 x annual pensionable pay

Survivor pension of 3/8ths of annual pension

* This is currently estimated to be between 10% and 15% of an MLA’s salary and will depend on the Actuary’s Reports. The Panel will wish to ensure an equitable distribution of risk to achieve a 40%/60% (employee/employer) split of responsibility. Currently 44 MLAs pay a 7% pension contribution and 60 pay a 12.5% contribution.

For more information on the Independent Review Panel and its work visit:

www.ifrp.org.uk

For more information please contact:

Secretary
Independent Financial Review Panel
Room 24
Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont
Belfast
BT4 3XX

Tel: 028 9052 1252

Email: info@ifrp.org.uk

Independent Financial Review Panel Facilitates Pooling Arrangement For MLAs’ Staff

Following the publication of the Panel’s first Determination in March 2012, talks were held with a number of political parties on the issue of the pooling of their support staff. This would allow a member of staff to be employed by one Assembly Member and to provide a service not only to that Member but also to a pool of Party colleagues.

The Panel considered this proposal in detail and has accepted that, subject to certain safeguards, this arrangement would:

• be an efficient and effective way of providing support to MLAs

• enable members to share specialist staff in an efficient and effective manner.

As currently drafted the March 2012 Determination does not facilitate such an arrangement. The Panel has therefore made a new Determination to amend the March 2012 Determination in order to enable a pooling arrangement to be put in place. The Assembly Commission and Assembly Members have been notified of this amendment. The Determination has been published on the Panel’s website. The new arrangements take effect on 1 January 2013 and will apply to the end of the current mandate. The Panel will publish a consolidated document early in the New Year.

Speaking on its decision to amend the March 2012 Determination, the Panel’s Chairman, Patrick McCartan said:

“The Panel took the unusual step to amend its Determination as a result of discussions with Assembly Members. We are anxious that MLAs’ staff support is managed in the most efficient and effective way and we are content that the Determination as amended will provide for this.”

Notes to Editors:

The Panel

The Independent Financial Review Panel was established by the Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act 2011. The Panel Members, who were appointed through an open competition, began work in July 2011.

The Panel Members are:

Patrick McCartan, CBE, MSc (Dist), FCIPD. (Chair)

Dr Henrietta Campbell CB, MD, FRCP

Alan McQuillan OBE BSc (Hons) MBA

The Panel is completely independent and not subject to any political control. Determinations made by the Panel are not subject to approval by the Assembly or the Assembly Commission.

Secretarial support for the Panel is provided by the Assembly Secretariat.

The functions of the Panel

The functions of the Independent Financial Review Panel are to make determinations in relation to the salaries and allowances payable to members of the Northern Ireland Assembly under section 47 of the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and also the pensions, gratuities and allowances payable under section 48 of that Act.

In exercising its functions, the Panel is required to:

  • Ensure probity, accountability and value for money with respect to the expenditure of public funds;
  • Secure for Assembly members a level of remuneration which fairly reflects the complexity and importance of their functions and does not, on financial grounds, deter people with the necessary commitment and ability from seeking election to the Assembly, and,
  • Secure for Assembly members adequate resources to enable them to exercise their functions as members of the Assembly.

The Panel is fully independent and is not subject to the control of either the Northern Ireland Assembly or the Assembly Commission.

For information on the Independent Review Panel and its work visit http://ifrp.org.uk

For more information please contact:

Georgie Campbell
Secretary
Independent Financial Review Panel
Room 24
Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont
Belfast
BT4 3XX

Tel: 028 9052 1252
Email: info@ifrp.org.uk

Independent Financial Review Panel Launches Report

14 March 2012

The Independent Financial Review Panel has today published its Report on the Salaries, Office Holder Allowances, Office Costs Expenses and Pensions of Members of the NI Assembly.

The Panel has also presented its Determinations on Salaries Expenses and Pensions to Assembly Commission, for immediate implementation.

In launching the Report and Determination, Chair of the Independent Panel, Pat McCartan, thanked all those who had helped the Panel in its work and said:

“The Assembly should be applauded for having the courage to place these decisions in the hands of an independent Panel totally free of political influence. We have worked hard to deliver an overall package that:-

• fairly rewards MLAs for the work they do;
• ensures the additional allowance paid to each office holder reflects the responsibility and scope of their post;
• imposes on MLA’s Office Cost Expenses a series of cuts similar to those experienced by the wider public sector;
• introduces new regulations for expenses to improve value for money and increase transparency and accountability; and
• requires MLAs to pay 1% more in contributions to their pension scheme.

We encourage everyone to look at this package as a whole – the Independent Financial Review Panel has delivered a real salary increase for MLAs, funded through significant savings elsewhere resulting in a net saving to the public purse of £3.16 million, or £29,000 per MLA, for the period to April 2015.

We believe that our Report is good for politics and good for Northern Ireland“.

The main decisions of the Panel, which will apply until the next Assembly election, are:

• An increase of £4,898 (11%) in the salary of MLAs, with effect from 1 April 2013.

• The post of Speaker will receive an increase in Office Holder Allowance of £6,199 (16.4%) with effect from 1 April 2013.

• The Office Holder Allowance for Chairs of Statutory Committees and Chair of the Public Accounts Committee will be increased from £11,331 to £12,000 with effect from 1 April 2013.

• Forty seven MLAs receive Office Holders Allowances in addition to their salary as an MLA. The salaries and allowances for almost half of these posts will be cut by amounts ranging from £5,331 to £9,738. Limited salary protection will be available for 17 existing post holders for up to three years.

• MLA’s contributions to their Pension Scheme will be increased by 1% to a maximum of 12.5% from 1 July 2012.

• From 1 April 2012 Office Costs Expenses will be reduced progressively by 3% per year from the current level of £75,857 to £69,238 by 1 April 2014.

• Automatic cost of living increases for expenses have been stopped.

• The amount of office consumables that MLAs can obtain free of charge from the Assembly Secretariat stores has been limited to £1,000 per year. There was previously no limit on this.

• MLAs who are also councillors will have 100% of their basic councillor allowance progressively deducted from their MLA salary by 1 April 2013.

• Eight MLAs who are also MPs will have their Assembly Office Costs Expenses progressively reduced from £37,928 per year to £8,655 per year by 1 April 2014.

In addition, controls on the payment of salaries and expenses have been strengthened in order to achieve improved value for money and accountability. Examples of these are:

• In future Members’ salaries and expenses must be paid into accounts in their own names;

• Purchasing goods and services from ‘connected parties’ including family members, political donors and political parties has been banned with immediate effect;

• The employment of family members has been limited to not more than one by the end of the mandate; and

• MLAs who do not lodge contracts of employment for their staff with the Assembly will no longer be eligible to reclaim the salaries of those staff from their Office Cost Expenses.

In summary, the Panel’s decisions have increased the basic salary for MLAs from 2013 but funded this through a range of cuts to allowances and expenses. Despite the pay rise, the package in its entirety will save £3.16m over the remaining 3 years of this Assembly mandate. This represents a significant real cut in the cost of politics.
ENDS
Interview requests should be made to:
Austin Hunter, Media Consultant, 07801 738604, or
Angela Hunter, Birdsong Communications, 07970 294406

Notes to Editors:

The Panel

The Independent Financial Review Panel was established by the Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act 2011. The Panel Members, who were appointed through an open competition, began work in July 2011.

The Panel Members are:

Patrick McCartan, CBE, MSc (Dist), FCIPD. (Chair)
Dr Henrietta Campbell CB, MD, FRCP
Alan McQuillan OBE BSc (Hons) MBA

The Panel is completely independent and not subject to any political control. Determinations made by the Panel are not subject to approval by the Assembly or the Assembly Commission.

Secretarial support for the Panel is provided by the Assembly Secretariat.

Report and Determination of the Panel

The Panel prepares a Determination to give legal effect to the decisions contained in its Report. The Determination is communicated to the Assembly Commission for publication and implementation.

Other than in exceptional circumstances the Panel can only issue one Determination for each Mandate of the Assembly. Today’s Determination therefore applies until the end of the current mandate.

The Panel has indicated in its Report that this Determination represents the first stage in reforming the system for payments of Salaries, Allowances, Expenses and Pensions for MLAs.

It is the Panel’s intention to publish its next Determination at least 12 months before elections to the next Assembly to allow prospective MLAs to clearly see the package of remuneration and support which will be available to them.

The Panel’s next Determination will take account of any decisions of the Assembly on the reform of the structure of the Assembly including the numbers of MLAs and numbers and sizes of Departments. In its Report the Panel has indicated that, in the absence of a significant reduction in the numbers of MLAs, it will be difficult for the Panel to justify further increases in the remuneration of MLAs.

The following table sets out the increases/decreases in MLA salaries and Office Holder Allowances as reflected in the Panel’s Report

 Current SalaryFrom April 1, 2013
MLA£43,101£48,000
Vice-chair, Statutory Committee*£48,768£48,000
Member Assembly Commission*£54,432£54,000
Principal/Deputy Speaker£51,600£57,000
Chair, Statutory Committee, PAC£54,432£60,000
Junior Minister *£62,710£60,000
Minister£80,902£86,000
Speaker£80,902£92,000
First, and deputy First Minister£114,535£120,000

*Subject to salary protection for existing Office Holders (see IFRP Report page 38)

The following table sets out the estimated cash savings to 31 March, 2015 as a result of the decisions of the Panel

CategoryCostSavingTotal
Subtotal: Salaries£1,415,000£1,252,000Cost of £163,000
Subtotal: Expenses£126,000£1,992,000Saving of £1,866,000
Estimated Cash Savings£1,703,000
Subtotal: Removal of indexationNIL£1,454,000Saving of £1,454,000
Total Estimated Financial Impact of DeterminationTotal Saving of £3,157,000

For more information, an electronic copy of the Report, and contact details on the Independent Financial Review Panel visit:- www.ifrp.org.uk

Consultation Launched On Assembly Members’ Salaries, Expenses And Pensions

15 September 2011          

The Independent Financial Review Panel has today launched a consultation exercise to take the views of individuals and organisations on Assembly Members’ salaries and office holder allowances, office costs expenses and pensions.  

The Panel was established in July 2011 to determine a level of remuneration which reflects the responsibilities of Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) and which does not deter, on financial grounds, people with the necessary commitment and ability from seeking election to the Assembly.  The Panel is also required to ensure that the expenses paid to MLAs to carry out their Assembly and constituency duties are set at the appropriate level. 

The Panel is fully independent and its decisions are not subject to approval by the Assembly.  Members’ salaries have remained largely unchanged since they were determined in 2000. Members’ allowances were determined in 2010 and the current rates of pension contributions were set in April 2009.

Information about the consultation process is available on the Panel’s website

(www.ifrp.org.uk) or by telephone from the Secretary to the Panel (TN 90521252).

The deadline for submitting comments is 5pm on Friday 9 December 2011. 

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

The Independent Financial Review Panel was established by the Northern Ireland Assembly Members (Independent Financial Review and Standards) Act 2011. Determinations made by the Panel are not subject to approval by the Assembly or the Assembly Commission.

The Panel Chair and members are as follows:

Chair
Patrick McCartan, CBE, MSc (Dist), FCIPD.

Members
Dr Henrietta Campbell CB, MD, FRCP
Alan McQuillan OBE BSc (Hons) MBA

For more information on the Independent Review Panel and its work visit

www.ifrp.org.uk

For more information please contact:

Georgie Campbell
Secretary
Independent Financial Review Panel
Room 24
Parliament Buildings
Ballymiscaw
Stormont
Belfast
BT4 3XX

Tel: 028 9052 1252
Email: info@ifrp.org.uk