MPs pay relatives higher wages than other staff, Ipsa finds

According to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), family members employed by MPs are paid on average £5,600 more than other staff.

The watchdog found that in total, 139 MPs employ family members at a public cost of about £4.5 million. The study found that most relatives were generally employed in more senior roles and were subsequently on higher pay rolls. It has since called for a review of whether MPs should be allowed to employ relatives in the future.

Ipsa argued that the habit of employing family members could mean that jobs become appointed on account of their ‘personal benefits’. However it said the review would only apply to future staffing as it would be ‘unfair and legally challengeable’ to investigate existing contractual arrangements.

The watchdog maintained that while it was happy with the majority of contractual arrangements, controls preventing the misuse of funds were ‘limited’.

The group argued: “Public concern about the employment of connected parties has remained. In order to determine whether these constitute any grounds for concern, Ipsa would need to undertake intrusive and potentially disproportionate work to investigate the employment practices in MPs' offices.

"But, given that there remains a perception of risk to taxpayers' money, we are obliged to address it. Therefore we are consulting again on the practice, but only in respect of the employment by MPs of any new staff."

The issue is set to be considered as part of a wider review of business costs and expenses payable to MPs, with changes to regulations likely to come into action in 2017 or after the next election in 2020.