Thursday, 21 July 2011

Questions answered on expenses

Today (21st July) IPSA have published figures for the 'expenses' claims of all MPs for 2010/11. I very much welcome the new transparency and openness about the new system. I thought it might be useful if I reported back my own claims and how taxpayers' money enabled me to do my job.

My total figure for 2010/11 was £142,671. The main elements of this were:

- £105,508 for staffing; this is the cost of employing staff in the constituency office and at Westminster, including employer NI contributions and contributions to staff pensions; in 2010/11 one member of staff went on maternity leave and so I incurred additional costs in paying for maternity cover; for this reason my staffing figure is higher than average, though I have queried with IPSA whether these costs have been correctly recorded;

- £15,968 for staying in London overnight around 3 nights per week; I still have a one-bed flat in Westminster where I stay; when the flat is sold, any gain in value will go to the taxpayer;

- £9244 for 'office costs'; this is mainly the cost of lease and service charge for the office at Pooole Court;

- £7151 for general admin costs; this is things like phone bills, toner cartridges for printers, broadband bills, additional IT above the basic amount provided by parliament etc.;

- £4798 for travel; this is standard class rail journies (generally once a week) from Bristol Parkway to Westminster and parking at Bristol Parkway; where possible I buy advance rail tickets but as a minister it can be hard to predict my return rail journey home on a Thursday so I generally buy an open ticket which is more expensive.

In terms of things that I don't claim, I made no claims in 2010/11 for mileage/petrol and no claims for food.

I hope that this is helpful information for local residents.