In a forward looking move, the Treasury announced today that Chancellor George Osborne will be slashing his salary to £9.40 an hour, the new Living Wage Rate in London, for a four week period.
George Osborne, the MP for Tatton and heir apparent to the Osborne Baronetcy, will attempt to live on his dramatically reduced pay packet, while still maintaining his central London pad, 11 Downing Street.
The Chancellor’s move, which the Treasury has labelled as an attempt by Mr Osborne to better understand the effect his policies are having on working people, comes after Iain Duncan Smith, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, resigned after claiming the Chancellor’s budget was unfair to the less well off.
Duncan Smith said in the aftermath of his dramatic resignation that he feared that the Government was cutting welfare payments in an ‘arbitrary fashion’ and allowing poorer people take the brunt.
HRreview understands that the Chancellor was particularly stung by Duncan Smith’s parting shot as he left the Cabinet and came up with the Living Wage trial himself as a response.
“George has been particularly discordant ever since the Budget shambles and the resignation,” a treasury insider commented. “In fact for four days after the Budget the Chancellor refused to come out of his bedroom and communicated with his staff by pushing yellow post-it notes under the door.”
The anonymous source told HRreview that the Chancellor hopes living on the new wage level for a month will burnish his credentials as a ‘compassionate conservative’.
“George Osborne makes General Franco look like Dame Barbara Cartland,” a Duncan Smith confidant commented. “The word compassion doesn’t exist in the Chancellor’s limited vocabulary.”
Nevertheless, the Chancellor is already changing his lifestyle in preparation for the trial and has cancelled an order for some soft furnishings he had placed just last month.
“The Chancellor is a sensitive man who always acts on criticism,” the treasury insider continued. “Anyone who doesn’t think that should have seen him throwing watermelons around the kitchen the other night after he got back from Waitrose and heard about Duncan Smith’s resignation.
If this Living Wage trial doesn’t buck him up I really don’t know what we’re going to do. Everyone knows that it was Gordon Brown who was the gloomy and dour Chancellor, when the public think of George they think of puppies and sunshine and we don’t want that to change anytime soon.”