The MP expense scandal of 2009 caused a divide in public opinion, with many believing that the expense claims were over and above what the MPs were entitled to.
Figures released last week by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) show that £89 million worth of costs and expenses have been claimed by MPs over this last year.
Nationally the top three claimants were the in the Liberal Democrat party; Greg Mullohand, Stephen Gilbert and Alistair Carmichael. Regionally in East Lancashire seven MPs claimed more than £1 million on top of their salaries.
Wales has 40 MPs but their office and parliamentary expenses totalled an approximate £5.9 million. The Welsh Shadow Office Minister Nia Griffith had the highest annual spend according to the IPSA with a staggering £166,698.75 of total expenditure and £8,498.65 amounting in travel claims.
Various MP expenses claims included:
· Travel expenses
· Mortgage interest payments
· Constituency rent and associated costs
· General Administration charges
· Staffing payroll and expenses
· And some 50 IPads that were bought along with a variety of other Apple accessories
From the 2010/2011, the MP expense total was £71 million, £18 million less than the last 12 months, but this may have been lower due to the impact of the general election.
Sir Ian Kennedy, Chairman of the IPSA insists that MPs are keeping to the new rules for expenses and that they are behaving responsibly with the rate of claims remaining stable. MP expenses are now published every month and he believes this to be a deterrent for many MPs submitting out of policy claims.
The new expense policy has helped to reduce over-inflated or duplicate expense claims, with tighter controls over what can be paid. Some of the 2011 rejections include ex-Education Minister Tim Loughton submitting his electricity bill of £262 twice, and the denial of many other MPs attempting to submit rent claims that were paid to their partners.
Sir Ian Kennedy said “If you want a good service from our MPs , we have to fund them and if you don’t think you get a good service from your MP, the answer is not to withhold funding – it is to use your vote.”
We would love to know your thoughts on the expenses that MP’s receive. Do you believe they are entitled to the large expense claims that they get paid, or do you think there should be more limits on what they spend the tax-payers money on?