01 July 2009

Should Councillors And MP's Allowances Be Means Tested?

As a general rule I am against means testing anything (politicians of course tend to like means-testing us plebs but not themselves). Means testing is highly bureaucratic and wasteful of resources and generally results in hurting those who really need the help in the first place.

But the more I think about means testing MPs and Councillors, the more I like the idea. This idea came about because of my discussions on another blog about Bob Piper's second and third jobs and allowance claims - despite being very wealthy he claims the fullest allowance he can.

Bob, and to be fair probably most councillors, consider their allowance a salary. It is not! It is called an allowance for a reason and some councillors, admittedly few, do not take up any or all of their allowance.

Don't get me wrong, a lot of councillors (and maybe some MPs) more than earn their allowance and deserve to claim every penny they get, some however don't deserve a penny of it.

To avoid doubt, shouldn't those who are wealthy enough to have a comfortable existence without the allowance, be barred from claiming it. It is supposedly there primarily so low earners are not put off being a councillor and can survive, so why pay these allowances to those who are already on big salaries?

It might have the useful side-effect of discouraging those who are 'only in it for the money' and also stop those who treat being a councillor or MP as a part-time distraction.

And don't give me this nonsense about 'losing the best people because they are high earners'. CEOs of banks were paid millions and all of them turned out to be worse than useless. I think it is about time we gave people on low earnings a chance to show what they can do in politics.

Politics is overwhelmingly an upper middle and upper class game. The majority of us who are in the lower social classes are overdue some power.


  1. Don't agree. Whether these allowances are too low or too high is another topic, as is the vexed question of how to stop MPs and so on taking back-handers, or 'second jobs' as they politely called. Let's stick with the general rule that 'means testing is bad' - it's even worse than taxation.

  2. Not sure about means testing, but an independent body to check for abuses is a must.