More support for MPs' staff to tackle growing casework
3 May 2020
MPs' staff are to receive a package of additional support to help them deal with increasingly complex and challenging constituency casework.
A £19.7m staffing budget increase, recommended by Parliament's independent expenses watchdog IPSA, will bring their salaries in line with equivalent staff in other sectors, while providing more cash for training, welfare and security.
Members of SCIPSA – the Speaker's Committee on the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority – agreed IPSA's funding for the next 12 months after they heard of the disparity between staff pay and comparable roles.
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who chairs SCIPSA, said: “Bearing in mind the growing number of complex cases that are brought to our constituency offices, it's important staff are paid fairly for the vital job they do.
“My own staff regularly have to help distressed constituents who are suicidal, fleeing domestic violence, have suffered rape, are homeless, need referrals to food banks, have the bailiffs banging at their doors, and are struggling to cope.”
Global specialist recruitment group Hays, which was commissioned by IPSA, found that job descriptions “do not sufficiently match the work that MPs' staff are increasingly doing”.
This includes staff experiencing long, unsociable hours and “dealing with complex and challenging constituency cases - and managing MPs' offices”.
Committee members heard how some of the 3,500 staff were increasingly having to support constituents with mental health issues – sometimes at risk to their own safety - while not being equipped to do so.
The new measures will mean each of the 650 MPs getting a staffing budget increase of 13.1% (£21.9K) in London and 13.9% (£21.6K) outside the capital. An additional £4K has been added to each budget to fund training, health and welfare costs.
Interim Chair's comments
Richard Lloyd, interim chair of IPSA, said:
“Our review of MPs' staffing budgets in 2019 found demands on MPs' offices were high, with staff doing difficult and stressful casework with constituents on a very wide range of problems.
“There was often high staff turnover, with salary levels below comparable roles elsewhere, based on independent benchmarked evidence. In many MPs' offices, relatively little time or money was spent on staff training, wellbeing and development.
“As a result, we have provided additional funding in MPs' 2020-21 staffing budgets for staff training and welfare, security, and changes to the salary bands and job descriptions for MPs' staff to bring them into line with the jobs they actually do.
“This action demonstrates IPSA's ongoing commitment to supporting MPs and their staff to serve their constituents, and we will review this over the next year, in line with our assurance work.”
Full details will be announced by IPSA later this week.
The move comes just weeks after the House of Commons Commission agreed a new HR service to oversee employment practices and boost the wellbeing of MPs' constituency staff.