One in five MPs continue to employ a member of their family using taxpayers' money despite the practice being banned for new members of Parliament. Of the 589 returning MPs, 122 have declared the employment of a relative in the latest Register of Members' Financial Interests. None of the 61 new MPs who secured their seats at the general election on 8 June are allowed to do so. Campaigners say there needs to be a clear end date for all MPs. Announcing the ban in March, the parliamentary watchdog, Ipsa, said employing family members was "out of step" with modern employment practices, and would not be permitted for new MPs in the next Parliament.
Family members employed by MPs are paid on average 5,600 more than other staff, a watchdog has revealed. Pay of such "connected parties" has also risen at twice the rate of other staff, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) found. The group called for a review of whether MPs should be allowed to employ relatives in the future, arguing jobs must not be "personal benefits". In total, 139 MPs employ family members at a public annual cost of about 4.5m. The review will only apply to future staffing as the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) said it would be "unfair and legally challengeable" to investigate existing contractual arrangements.
There are holidays, events, and even corporate discounts designed to honor members of the military and veterans – but the spouses and families quietly loving and supporting them are deserving of fanfare as well. That's why on the Friday before Mother's Day every year we observe National Military Spouse Appreciation Day – to celebrate the inestimable contributions of those who stand behind and support service men and women bravely defending our nation. Those who serve in the military are deserving of our respect and admiration for a multitude of reasons. It is not an easy job. Defenders of our country know that in addition to the professional challenges they face, there are also many unique challenges that military families experience in their personal lives as well.
The military must do a better job of addressing the alarmingly high rates of underemployment and unemployment among military spouses, write guest columnists Douglas P. McCormick and Kathy Roth-Douquet. Living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to make ends meet has become all too common for American households, particularly for our military families. The Department of Defense has made great strides to promote financial literacy, financial independence and economic empowerment within the veteran community. They have accomplished this through programs such as home and small business loans, access to education, access to government contracts through veteran preferences in contracting and access to career and business training through transition assistance programs. But in spite of this substantial progress, we have yet to tackle the largest opportunity to create financial security and readiness among this community: extending this financial and economic empowerment to military spouses.
The departing head of the Parliamentary expenses watchdog has defended the decision to award MPs a 10% pay rise in a parting shot at his critics. Sir Ian Kennedy said the "unpopular" decision had been proved right. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority was set up as a response to the expenses scandal, but the new system has been criticised by some MPs. Sir Ian compared his task to "mud-wrestling" and being a "voyager through Dante's Inferno". In the introduction to IPSA's report on the last Parliament, he said he had been "turned over" by Westminster journalists when he was appointed to the job, and said there were loud "noises off" criticising the new body after it was created in 2009.