Is £120,000 a reasonable salary to support a family in the capital? Not for Foreign Office Minister Mark Simmonds.
The MP for Boston and Skegness quit yesterday, saying his salary wasn’t sufficient to support his family in London. Simmonds is set to stand down from government immediately and would leave his constituency seat at next year’s general election. He is being replaced by James Duddridge, a former government whip.
Simmonds receives a ministerial salary of £89,435 and gets an allowance of £28,000 to rent a London property. His wife Elizabeth also makes £25,000 per annum in her role as his office manager.
In a statement, he said: “There needs to be a system of allowances and support structures in place that supports MPs in their work, enables them to be normal people, which currently I believe is not the case.
“That’s the main reason I have resigned. The sacrifice to family life has become intolerable and the support for continuance of family life is not there… It is time we had a mature debate about this.
“When I became an MP, the situation and support mechanisms were very different. You were able to have a family home in the constituency and a family home in London. That is no longer the case.”
Andy Silvester, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said that almost £30,000 is enough to find a decent family home in London.
“The expenses system is more than generous, and hearing an MP complaining about it will do nothing to restore voters’ trust in their Westminster representatives,’ he said.
“It’s no wonder so many people feel some politicians are out of touch.”