MPs earn £188 an hour answering online surveys
By Richard Aault
Many people supplement their income by taking online surveys for cash – and it seems MPs are no different.
But while members of the public can typically earn up to £20 for filling out a form, parliamentarians can charge an average fee of £188 an hour.
Polling firms have paid 119 MPs at least £68,900 for filling in more than 749 forms since 2019, according to the latest Parliamentary Register of MPs’ Interests.
The exact amount disbursed will be higher, as not all MPs reported how much they were paid, and in some cases MPs indicated that they had received fees for responding to surveys, but did not specify how much.
MPs are also not required to say what they did with their income, but a proportion said they donated it to charities, local organizations or their local political party.
In fact, of the reported total of £68,900 given to MPs, at least £12,625 was distributed – and it’s likely that much more was distributed to good causes.
Of the inquiries where the amount paid or expected to be paid was declared, Sir Desmond Swayne received the highest amount of fees.
The Conservative MP for New Forest West spent 25 hours completing 39 surveys and polls in return for £4,780.
Sir Desmond said he was a ‘rule keeper’ on reporting income – and any money he received from filling in the forms was donated directly to charity.
Sir Desmond added: “Yes, it’s a chore. I don’t look forward to them, but I do because payment is made directly by the survey company to the charity I name.
Ellie Reeves, MP for Lewisham West and Penge, filled in the most forms and spent the most time responding to surveys.
The Labor MP took 27 hours to complete 54 different surveys.
She was also the second highest earner and received a total of £4,665. Of this amount, £275 was donated directly to charity. She does not specify where the others went.
In total, parliamentarians spent around 365 hours on inquiries, which – based on the amount and time claimed – equates to an average payment of £188 an hour.
This means that if a single MP filled out all the forms on behalf of his colleagues on all sides of the House, it would take them more than nine weeks to complete them (based on an average 40-hour workweek).
A high proportion of interest register entries do not specify which polling company commissioned the MP to complete a poll.
But of the polling firms that are named, Ipsos MORI appears to be the biggest payer, typically offering MPs £275 to complete a form that would take between 60 and 90 minutes to complete.
Of the MPs who said which polling firm paid them, £10,725 came from Ipsos MORI and a further £1,980 from YouGov.
A regular member of the public typically earns reward points for completing surveys from each company, which can be redeemed for gifts such as vouchers.
There are also online rewards sites offering ordinary people the chance to earn up to £20 per completed survey.
While MPs can charge much higher fees, the amount MPs earn filling out forms is a drop in the bucket compared to what many MPs have earned from second jobs – like Geoffrey Cox, who earned almost £1million working as a solicitor last year on top of his MP salary.
MPs also have every right to earn money by answering surveys – and there’s no suggestion that the work wasn’t done in their spare time.
It’s also an easy and relatively quick way for them to raise money for good causes, to help fund political campaigns or their own work in their constituency; or to supplement their base salary of £81,932.