Money saved during the three year hiatus of the Assembly

Information Standards Freedom of Information Response

Our Ref: FoI 10-20

05 March 2020

Freedom of Information Act 2000

I can confirm that the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission holds information relevant to your request of 24 January 2020.  In your request you asked for the following information:

“What is the total amount saved during the three year hiatus as a result of the reductions in MLAs salaries, as well as the staff vacancies (of those who left and were not replaced)?.”

Clarification of your request was sought on 12 February 2020 as follows:

“Do you require the amount saved due to the reductions applied in MLAs salary over the course of the hiatus, or if you also want to include the savings impact of non-payment of inflationary increases to salary as well?”

Your response of 12 February 2020 provided the following clarification:

“I would like both figures, if they are available and any other relevant information on the topic you can attain”

Please see information in relation to your request at Appendices A & B.


If you feel that the information we have provided does not meet your request fully, please contact this office as soon as possible.  You have the right to request a formal review by the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission and if you wish to do so, please write to me at the above address.

If after such an internal review you are still unhappy with the response, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,  Cheshire SK9 5AF who will undertake an independent review.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me.  Please remember to quote the reference number above.

Yours sincerely



Appendix A

Members’ Salaries

In the period from January 2017 until December 2019, the total estimated saving was £3.668m. The breakdown of this figure is given in Table 1 at Appendix B.

This figure represents the difference between the full salary costs, which would have been payable if the Executive, had been in place from March 2017 to December 2019 and the actual salary costs incurred during that period. It should be recognised that following the March 2017 Assembly election, the number of Members fell from 108 to 90. The figures for the full, anticipated salary costs take account of this reduction.

Read about the legislative basis for the payment of salaries to Members.


Secretarial Staff Salaries

The breakdown of this figure is given in Table 2 at Appendix B. It is provided for the period from April 2017 to December 2019. The total saving is estimated is £3.780m. 

At January 2017, the Assembly Commission engaged 348 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) members of staff which had reduced to 304 FTEs by January 2020. The information in this reply has been calculated by comparing a forecast of the salary costs that would have been incurred if the 348 FTEs had remained in post from January 2017 to December 2019 against the actual salary costs that were incurred.

Due to the Assembly election in March 2017, there was little by way of staff salary savings between January 2017 and March 2017.  Therefore, the savings are shown for the 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20 financial years. The figures for the 2019-20 financial year are for the period from April 2019 to December 2019 (inclusive).

It is worth noting that the forecast for salaries and the actual costs show significant increases for 2019-20.  This was mainly caused by an increase in employers’ pension contributions of just under 8%. This pressure was felt across many public sector entities and led to an increase in actual costs of almost £645k for the year.


Appendix B

Table 1: Members' Salaries

 January 2017 - March 20172017-182018-192019-20 (April to Dec 2019)Total

Full salary costs 






Actual salary costs 












* This quarter savings also include the impact following the Assembly Election in March 2017 when the number of Members decreased from 108 to 90


Table 2: Secretariat Salaries

(April to Dec 2019)

Salary forecast for maintaining staff at January 2017 level





Actual salary costs





Estimated Saving






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