MPs Expenses – The Facts
Much misinformation concerning MPs expenses is often aired, and so I thought it would be useful if there was a place on my website in which to present the true facts.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has set and regulated MPs’ salaries, pensions, business costs and expenses since 7 May 2010. The ‘Scheme’ of MPs’ Business Costs and Expenses strictly governs what MPs can and cannot claim for.
Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs & Expenses
The Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs and Expenses is intended to ensure MPs are reimbursed for costs necessarily incurred in the performance of their Parliamentary functions. The Scheme sets out a series of fundamental principles and rules within which MPs must operate, while still allowing them appropriate discretion over making claims, where stated.
The Scheme is regularly reviewed to ensure the budgets and rules remain up to date. The Eleventh Edition of the Scheme is in effect for the 2019-20 financial year and can be found at: http://www.theipsa.org.uk/
IPSA has a statutory responsibility to regulate and administer a transparent scheme of business costs and expenses for MPs. IPSA’s reviews of the Scheme help ensure that public funds are properly spent and accounted for, and also that MPs have the support they need in order to perform their Parliamentary functions.
MPs’ salaries are reviewed annually and as of April 2019 stands at £79,468. This is set by IPSA and MPs have no say in it whatsoever. All MPs receive the same salary. I receive no additional remuneration for my role as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Refer to IPSAs website for historical information since 2010.
It’s worth noting that pay for responsible positions within both the public and private sectors is as follows:
Chief Superintendent with the Metropolitan Police – £84,000
Head teacher in Inner London – up to £118,000
Average GP salary in the UK – £90,000
Average CEO for a London-based company – £150,000
CEO at Worcestershire County Council – circa £157,000 minimum
CEO at Redditch Borough Council – circa £125,000
MPs are allocated a budget in order for them to be able to employ staff and competently carry out their duties in their role as Member of Parliament. This falls into various categories as follows for the year 2019/20.
Staffing: £153,620: Most MPs employ staff in both their Westminster and Constituency offices in order to assist them in their various duties including arranging and attending meetings, assisting with their Parliamentary diary duties, answering correspondence which currently stands at up to 2,000 e-mails and letters each week, carrying out constituent surgeries, visits and meetings and organising events that are required as part of the duty of an MP.
Accommodation: £22,850: When Parliament is in session, I am required by my whips to be in Parliament from Monday to Thursday inclusive. Sittings can and do often run very late, sometimes into the early hours of the morning and so this is to pay for a flat close to the Palace of Westminster where I can stay overnight. All MPs whose constituencies are outside London receive this allowance. I moved my family home to the constituency after I was elected as part of a pledge to voters as I believe it is important to be part of the community I represent. My family home does not cost the taxpayer anything, other than security measures which have necessarily had to be implemented to all MPs homes and offices following the tragic death of Jo Cox.
Office Costs: £24,880: I run an office in the constituency at which four members of staff (two full-time, two part-time) are sited. This budget is to pay for office rent, stationery, telephone and broadband and any other costs associated with running a modern office. I firmly believe that my focus should be in the constituency and that is why I employ four members of staff in Redditch and just one in London. They provide a 9am – 5.30pm support in the constituency whilst I am in London.
First Class rail travel: MPs have to consider value for the taxpayer when booking rail tickets. They can travel First Class if the fare is demonstrably cheaper than a standard class ticket. I have never travelled First Class in my duties as your MP.
Food and Drinks: MPs may only claim for the cost of purchasing food and non-alcoholic drinks where they have stayed overnight either outside the London area or their constituency. This would be an extremely rare occurrence, but in any case I have never claimed for food and drink even under these circumstances and I never would.
Staff Expenses: Where staff undertake duties on my behalf, or training in the course of their duties, they can claim for expenditure incurred, such as travel, car parking, hotels and meals, but only up to strictly controlled limits. Any other employer would have the same rules.
Over-run on Budgets: Any over-run on these budget limits at the end of the year have to be re-paid to IPSA by the MP, although I have always kept within the specified limits.
Staffing: I have seen comments on social media that neither I nor any of my staff live in Redditch. This is entirely false because, as stated above, I moved to the Constituency after my election. Three of the four staff I employ at the Redditch office live in Redditch, two of them for more than 30 years!
Historical information on my expenditure is fully transparent and available on the IPSA website at http://www.theipsa.org.uk/mp-costs/your-mp/. There are other websites available but they don’t necessarily give the full picture and it’s always better to consult the IPSA website for the totally accurate and official picture. You will see that my claims are around the average for other MPs.