While Ealing is counting the pennies the Pounds are looking after themselves!

Despite much public scepticism in the wake of the expenses scandal over the practice of a minority of MPs hiring family members at the expense of the taxpayer, Ealing North MP Stephen Pound continues to keep his wife on the payroll on a pay scale £20- £25k p.a.

In the current climate of severe pressures on public funds the lack of transparency around hiring relatives is considered bad practice to say the least. The public cannot be assured of getting value for money when the normal checks and balances are by-passed when a position with an MP is awarded because of a familial relationship rather than to the best person for the job. And can all MPs be trusted not to overpay their own relatives, or keep proper tabs on the hours they work, especially when they have a pecuniary interest if it is a spouse whose earnings directly add to their own household income?

When questioned about what Mrs Pound does for her money Mr Pound refused to give any details whatsoever and refused to share the job description.  However, IPSA did forward it on the grounds that a relative receiving public finds while working for an MP is a matter of public interest and we have printed the job description below. It is clear that Mrs Pound’s role is supposed to be to support Mr Pound’s caseworker(s) and accordingly she is paid for duties she is supposed to perform such as liaising with the local authority and various other organisations in relation to Mr Pound’s casework. Yet in a response to a freedom of information request to Ealing Council they confirmed that they have never had any communication from Mrs Pound whatsoever regarding her husband’s casework. Moreover, nor have other public bodies the MP’s casework would involve such as the Department of Work and Pensions which deals with matters relating to benefits, or the Home Office which deals with matters relating to immigration, both of which form a significant chunk of MPs’ casework in the London constituencies.

So we are left wondering exactly what Mrs Pound does do for her £20-25,000 per year public salary. The only role anyone has heard of her doing is showing constituents in to a room to see her husband at some of the surgeries he holds. Stephen Pound holds six surgeries a month; one hour long one every Monday morning and one two hour long twice a month on Friday evenings. Supposing Mrs Pound were to accompany him to each one, and there is no evidence to suggest she does, that would make a total of 8 hours per month, or 2 hours weekly. Can a salary of £20-25,000 p.a really be justifiable here?

GENERAL JOB DESCRIPTION        M POUND
Job Title:       To support Secretary/Caseworker for the Member of Parliament for Ealing North
Main Duties:
  • Responding to written and telephone casework. Investigate issues raised in casework correspondence and follow up cases
  • To ensure an efficient turnover of correspondence
  • Liaise with Local Authority and agencies in Ealing in relation to constituency casework.
  •  Maintain an up-to-date paper/computer filing system
  • Ensure that telephone messages are passed on efficiently
Essential Skills
  • Computer Literacy – knowledge of Microsoft desirable
  • Good typing skills
  • Letter writing skills
  • Polite telephone manner
  • Good interpersonal skills

UPDATE: The IPSA consultation on expenses also revealed that family members employed by MPs earn an average of £5,600 more than other staff and have seen their salaries rise at twice the rate of other workers.

 

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