UK Politics

MPs claimed £23m in expenses, says watchdog IPSA

Westminster Parliament
Image caption Parliament attempted to clean up its act after the expenses scandal

MPs claimed a total of £23m in personal expenses in the year to April, says the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

The bill - which does not include staff costs - is slightly up on last year.

It represents a saving of £10.9m on 2008-09, the year before the expenses scandal and the creation of IPSA, the watchdog said in an annual report.

IPSA says it has saved taxpayers £35m in expenses payments in total, although it cost £6m to set up.

When staff costs are added in the expenses bill for the 12-month period is £98m, 7% higher than last year.

The biggest claimer in the period covered by the report was North Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr, who received £100,204 in constituency, accommodation and travel expenses.

Conservative MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, Daniel Kawczynski, claimed the most on accommodation - £26,982 - followed by Rochdale Labour MP Simon Danczuk who claimed £26,939.

The DUP's Jim Shannon claimed the most on staff costs - £157,648 - followed by Labour MP and shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna, who claimed £155,434.

Cult figure

Alistair Carmichael, Lib Dem MP for Orkney and Shetland, claimed the highest travel expenses, £45,047, followed by Ian Paisley Jr £45,039.

One MP - Conservative Zac Goldsmith of Richmond Park - made no claim, while Conservative MP and business minister Michael Fallon received just £38.74 and Conservative MP for Windsor Adam Afriyie £604.20.

The report also details how much MPs pay to family members - mostly their spouses or children - to work as office managers, secretaries, caseworkers or Parliamentary assistants.

It shows that 155 MPs employ someone with the same family name in their office. Typical pay for an office manager ranges between £25,000 and £39,999 a year, although some MPs pay more than that.

Conservative backbencher Peter Bone pays his wife Jeanette - a cult figure in the Commons thanks to her husband's humorous references to "Mrs Bone" in his speeches - between £45,000 and £49,999 to be his office manager.

Fellow Tory backbencher Christopher Chope pays wife Christine a similar amount to be his secretary.

Legal dispute

The report reveals that 19 MPs claimed a total of £13,163 for bonuses to their staff - the highest amount claimed was by Conservative MP Brooks Newmark who shared £1,800 between three members of his Parliamentary team.

There has also been a big increase in the amount MPs spend on security, which has gone up from £36,948 in 2010-11 to £129,829 in 2012-13.

Eight MPs still owe capital gains repayments to IPSA on house sales, adding up to a total of £96,295.

More than half of that total is down to Conservative MP Stewart Jackson, who is embroiled in a legal dispute with the watchdog over the £54,000 it says he owes them.

The MP claims the watchdog overestimated the capital gain he made on his family home in his Peterborough constituency.

IPSA banned the use of Commons expenses to pay mortgage interest in May 2010. However, transitional arrangements were put in place permitting MPs elected before 2010 to keep claiming the money up to last August - as long as they agreed to return any potential capital gain.

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