Diana Carney, the wife of Bank of Canada governor and soon-to-be Bank of England governor Mark Carney, has started something of a furor in Britain after a tweet that implied the Carneys are struggling to find an apartment they can afford with their $7,700-a-week housing allowance.
Carney linked high prices for high-end apartments in London to an influx of wealthy French people relocating to the British capital after newly-elected French President Francois Hollande introduced a steep 75-per-cent top income tax rate.
Linking to a story about Hollande scaling back the controversial tax, Carney tweeted: “Maybe I’ll be able to find a place to live in London after all.”
That quickly led to numerous expressions of disapproval from British politicians and activists, some of whom were already incensed about the size of Carney’s compensation package.
Carney was given a salary of GBP 624,000 (C$961,000) and an annual housing allowance of GBP 250,000 (C$385,000) when he accepted the job of Bank of England governor last fall.
Diana Carney’s husband “is getting a housing allowance that is more than many of my constituents earn in ten years,” said John Mann, a Labour MP who sits on the Treasury select committee that vetted Carney’s appointment.
“I would be happy to help her find suitable accommodation. I’m prepared to move out of my London flat for her which will be available at just four per cent of her housing allowance,” he added, as quoted at the London Evening Standard.
“While Diana Carney clearly recognises that punitive rates of taxation across the Channel are going to send people flocking to London, not many of us are lucky enough to have a taxpayer funded allowance to subsidise our homes,” quipped Robert Oxley of the Taxpayers Alliance, as quoted at the Daily Mail.
Carney found himself defending his housing allowance in front of the British Parliament's Treasury select committee last month, as questions arose over his pay package, which is at least $200,000 larger than the pay enjoyed by current BofE governor Mervyn King.
Carney said he isn’t taking a pension as part of his pay package, which would have made his compensation about the same as King’s.
"It is consistent with the arrangements of many international executives when they move to this country, in order to equalise their living standards from where they come to where they arrive,” Carney told the committee.
"I am moving from one of the least expensive capital cities in the world, Ottawa, to one of the most expensive."
Some observers found irony in Diana Carney’s comments, pointing out that she runs Canada2020, a progressive think tank.
Just this past Sunday, the Daily Mail reported, Diana Carney appeared on a talk show where she cited income inequality as her top priority.
Carney takes over as head of England’s central bank in July.