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MPs say publishing their expenses is like 'bullying' and demand more control over budgets

Henry Dyer   

MPs say publishing their expenses is like 'bullying' and demand more control over budgets
  • An anonymous MP has said publishing their expenses is equivalent "to bullying".
  • They also complained "our rents exceed the amount allocated" in their accommodation expenses.

MPs have complained that the publication of their expenses is equivalent "to bullying", that their accommodation budget is too small, and that they should have more control over how much money is available.

The statements were made in anonymous submissions to the House of Commons Standards Committee, which is reviewing the Code of Conduct for MPs. It is not addressing expenses claims.

MP pay and expenses are set, administered, and published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), which is not run by or linked to the Commons Standards Committee. MP salaries are due to increase from £81,932 to £84,144 from April 1.

One MP, who appears to have joined Parliament in 2019, said the publication of their expenses claims was equivalent "to bullying".

"The manner in which these expenses are published is paramount to bullying," the MP said. They appear to have meant to use the word "tantamount."

"We know every single thing we claim is in the public domain – which again seems excessive. And if we as an MP make an error we are punished – yet if IPSA makes an error – that is also our fault. The systems have got out of hand, cost far too much and assume guilt rather than innocence at every point."

In fact, no details of MPs expenses claims have been published since September 2021, when details were published for April and May 2021. It is currently unclear when further expenses claims will be published, and what details will be provided.

The details of all expenses claims going back for more than a decade have been made unavailable by IPSA since October 2021 on security grounds following the killing of Sir David Amess.

The same MP complained that "far too many of us are out of pocket every month because our rents exceed the amount allocated". MPs representing constituencies outside of London can claim accommodation costs for hotels or rental properties, with utility and council tax bills included in the expenses budget.

From April 1, MPs claiming for a property in London will have an annual budget of £25,080, and for outside of London, £17,840. A further £5,720 can be claimed for each of up to three dependants per year.

The MP said it was unreasonable their home broadband bill could not be claimed on expenses as they work "from home every weekend". They also suggested MPs are treated like "young offenders", making the job "nearly impossible".

"The baseline assumption as a new MP seems to be that I am on the scrounge and should be treated like a child and punished at the first opportunity," they said. "If we were treated like adults we would be far more likely en masse to act like them."

Another MP also used the committee's call for submissions to anonymously complain about the expenses system.

They said that they should have "full control over job descriptions and salary bands for our staff" and their accommodation budgets.

"I had to buy furniture out of my own money because there were no furnished flats for rent in my constituency," the MP wrote.

"If I had control of an overall budget for the Parliamentary session, equivalent to the current accommodation budget, I could easily have covered both rent and purchase of furniture."

The MP went to suggest the committee was not objective and was biased against Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government.


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