Second home expenses boost for MPs
The costs of running and paying for a second home are on the rise. That's why MPs have been given an extra £100 to help them cope.
The cash boost from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) means MPs will see their allowance increased from £20,000 to £20,100 - a +0.5% lift. Deserved?
The sharp rise in energy bills alone means the extra £100 allowance is not going to stretch that far; British Gas hit customers with a +6% hike in November, just before heavier winter consumption got under way. IPSA has also approved a +2.4% rise in expenses MPs can claim for running their offices.
There is a new departure though: IPSA will now make public the names of any MP who becomes a landlord of tenant of another MP. This follows revelations in November that several MPs were sub-letting their second homes to other MPs.
Channel 4 published a list of landlords who are paid taxpayer-funded cash by MPs. The practice is not against the rules - but renting from family members definitely is.
Meanwhile there is understandable scrutiny about any extra expenses for MPs given that the Coalition is pushing through its spare room tax, which will see the poorest hit hardest.
"Working well" - most of the timeIPSA claims that the newly-introduced MPs' Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses is "working well and that only minor adjustments were necessary." The aim of these adjustments, it claims, "is to ensure that public funds are properly spent and accounted for and that MPs have the support they need to perform their parliamentary functions."
Loopholes remain though and some MPs still exploit them. Witness ex farming minister Sir Jim Paice who previously claimed more than £420 a month on mortgage interest payments.
When this practice was outlawed, Paice let his South London flat out and rented another flat, claiming, the Mirror reported, more than £18,000 annually from the taxpayer instead of £5,000.