Salford Mayor, Ian Stewart, got a golden goodbye pay off from Parliament after he stood down from Parliament when Hazel Blears took over his Eccles seat.
The pay off, called a resettlement grant, is due to any MP who retires, gets de-selected or loses their seat in the House of Commons, and is based on length of service and age. Stewart, who is 62 and served 13 years as an MP before being de-selected by his local Labour Party, was entitled to 84% of his annual £65,738 MP's salary, producing a pay off of £55,219.92.
On top of the resettlement grant, Stewart gets an annual MP's pension, which Parliament does not disclose, even under the Freedom of Information Act, as it's administered by the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund, which, we are told, is "not part of the House of Commons and not a public authority for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act".
However, a Briefing paper on the subject, called Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (Standard Note SN 01844) does estimate the average MP pension at between £15,000 and £22,500.
It states "An MP serving the average term of office of 15 years, paying contributions at 11.9% of pensionable pay (and, therefore, accruing benefits at a rate of 1/40th) would accrue a pension of around £22,500 pa (about 1/3rd of an MP's pay)."
Stewart, with 13 years as an MP would, we think, be picking up close to this figure. However the paper adds… "The average pension in payment from the scheme is around £18,000 pa, including transfers in from other pension schemes and payments by MPs for `added years'. Therefore, the average pension being paid that has been financed by a contribution from the Exchequer is estimated to be around £15,000 pa."
Whatever the pension is, it's based on final salary, and will be what many Salfordians earn by continuing to work full time.
On top of the one off `resettlement grant' and the Parliamentary pension, Ian Stewart is also picking up further payments by renting out his London MP's home to Gerry Sutcliffe MP, who is paying £1,300 a month `accommodation costs'' (click here for previous Salford Star story).
Ian Stewart is also, of course, trousering a salary of £69,000 for being Mayor of Salford.
Ian Stewart hasn't broken any Parliamentary rules, so is all this relevant? We believe it is incredibly relevant…
1) The Mayor is currently in negotiations with trade unions over a new pay and grading structure for Salford City Council workers that would, according to the Council's own documents, see 58% of Salford Council staff lose money by 2017/18.
2) When Ian Stewart was battling former Salford Council Leader, John Merry, for the Mayoral nomination, Merry stated publicly that he wouldn't take an increased salary. That he would do the job for the same rate that he got for being Leader of the Council. Ian Stewart refused to do this, merely stating that he would accept the recommendations of an independent panel.
3) At the East Salford Community Committee meeting last week, when challenged about his Mayor's salary, Stewart cringingly told people to go check out their local doctor who is earning in excess of £100,000.
* See also Open Letter To Salford Mayor from Salford Star - click here