How much does your MP cost you?

I have always endeavoured to make the workings and cost of my office, well before the furore over MPs' expenses, as transparent as possible. That is why for several years I have made more detailed declarations about my allowances in a user friendly way on this website and in my Annual Report. In addition from 2008 Conservative MPs published further details of their allowances on the Conservative Party website. I am always happy to respond to further questions on this in the interests of Parliamentary transparency and accountability to my constituents and hope that it will help people see exactly what taxpayers are paying MPs to do and look beyond the usually cynical and often inaccurate media headlines.

The public was understandably outraged over the revelations about the way the old MPs expenses system worked or clearly didn't work. The system has been brought into disrepute by the excesses of a few, not helped by the broad and lax criteria under which allowances were granted and the fact that uniquely the job of an MP requires us to operate from three different work places - Westminster, the constituency office and our homes. It was vital that the system was reformed to start to restore confidence in the whole political process and in the important jobs that our constituents sent us to Parliament to do. Partly reflecting the problem of setting up a completely new system in a hurry I do have my concerns however about the way the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) is actually operating and is turning out to be much more bureaucratic and expensive to run than what it replaced.

Each MP's circumstance is different and each should be accountable. For my part I have always supported any moves to make the workings of MPs more transparent and accountable which is why I have published fuller details of my expenses on my website voluntarily for some years well before the expenses row blew up, and have always been happy to answer any questions from my constituents, though few have raised it. When the revelations about the Parliamentary expenses system first hit the headlines in May 2009 I was keen to be available to constituents to respond to any questions or concerns head-on. Subsequently, with West Worthing Peter Bottomley I held a special street surgery in Worthing town centre for any constituents to come along and ask questions on any aspects of MPs allowances, locally or generally. That challenge was taken up by scores of people and for two and a half hours Peter and I took on all comers. For those unable to come to the town centre a further public meeting was held a few weeks later at Davison's school organised and chaired by the Worthing Herald, though the attendance was disappointing. Subsequently, I have of course been happy to answer any outstanding queries as ever.

Along with all other MPs, my expenses stretching back five years have been the subject of a full audit by the review body set up under Sir Thomas Legg which has made various recommendations about refunding various claims made. In addition the Conservative Party set up a more rigorous review of every Conservative MP's claims and made its own recommendations. Tim was found not to have made any unjustified claims over this period. Since becoming an MP in 1997 I had maintained the same two properties - a house in West Sussex just outside my constituency and a flat in Westminster in walking distance from the House of Commons where I usually stay during the week. Both these properties were purchased without any public funds. As anyone can see from my website my normal working week averages over 70 hours when Parliament is sitting. That includes several days a week when I am in my Commons office by 7.30 in the morning and not leaving until after 11pm which makes commuting wholly impractical, much as I would like to be able to get home more often!

My time is therefore split between Westminster and Sussex and up to October 2009, I had chosen to claim the Additional Costs Allowance on my Sussex home, though I have significant mortgages on both properties. I have claimed for running costs on that one property which include mortgage interest, utility bills, council tax and insurance. I have never charged any capital goods, gardening, cleaning, mock beam installation or moat clearance or the like! I am more than happy to justify any of these expenses to my constituents which fully comply with the rules and which more importantly comply with the spirit of Parliamentary expenses being necessary to enable me to get on with my job in more than one place of work, working unsociable hours and being accountable to my constituents.

Following discussions over reform to the allowance system and in particular concerning the Additional Costs Allowance (now renamed the Personal Additional Accommodation Expenditure) which compensates Members for the costs associated with living away from home, I decided to dispose of our London flat in October 2009. Since January 2010 I have been renting a small one bed roomed flat in Westminster for which I claim the Parliamentary allowance which covers rent, utilities and council tax only.

A breakdown of Tim's expenses from July 2009 is available from the Conservative Party's website; www.conservatives.com/People/Members_of_Parliament.aspx. and from May 2010 is published by IPSA on their website www.ipsa-home.org.uk/Publication_MPs_Expenses.html

A summary of Tim's income and expenses from 2010/11 is given below. In total Tim claimed £106,391 in 2010/11, to carry out his duties as an MP and run his office which typically deals with over 100 letters and over 180 emails and telephone calls every working day.
 

Salary

Most MPs received a basic salary of £65,738 in 2010/11 and it was decided that we would take a pay freeze for 2011/12. As a Minister I receive an additional ministerial salary of £28,404. However, all Ministers have agreed to take a 5% pay cut frozen for the lifetime of this Parliament which means that my total salary is £89,435

For information, the salary of an MP has risen by an average of 2.9% pa since I first became an MP in 1997, as follows:
 

1 April 1997  £43,860
1 April 1998 £45,066
1 April 1999  £47,008
1 April 2000 £48,371
1 April 2001 £49,822
20 June 2001 £51,822
1 April 2002  £55,118
1 April 2003 £56,358
1 April 2004  £57,485
1 April 2005 £59,095
1 April 2006  £59,686
1 Nov 2006     £60,277
1 Apr 2007     £61,181
1 Nov 2007     £61,820
1 Apr 2008   £63,291
1 April 2009 £64,766

1 April 2010                            £65,378
1 April 2011                            £65,378

All MPs qualify for a final salary pension scheme though over the last five years the individual contribution payable by members has almost doubled from 6% to around 11% of salary.

Accommodation

In recognition of the fact that MPs have to live in two places at once to attend Parliament in Westminster during the week and to attend to duties in their constituencies, MPs could claim up to £19,000 in 2010/11 for the cost of a second property of which I claimed 17,659.83 This can be used for rent, utility bills and council tax. This only applies to one property of course and we are responsible for our own home bills like anyone else.

Staffing Allowance

I maintain an office at the House of Commons and in the constituency at Haverfield House in Worthing. To cover the costs of running these offices, last year MPs qualified for an annual staffing allowance of £100,419. 

In the financial year 2010-2011, I spent a total of £84,816.13 to run my offices. None of this money actually goes to me directly.

Of this total, over 84% goes on staff salaries, including basic pay and national insurance costs. I employ:

  • A full time personal assistant at Westminster mostly dealing with constituency correspondence and diary engagements
  • A part time intern at Westminster helping with  House of Commons work and constituency queries.
  • A part time researcher at Westminster helping with his role as Minister for Children and Families and running the office finances
  • A part time secretary working from home mostly handling surgery case work.
  • A part time secretary working from home who attends surgeries, deals with surgery case work and emails
  • A contribution to the secretarial support in the Worthing office dealing directly with constituents. This is included in the monthly payment he makes to Haverfield House of £700 towards the cost of renting an office there, staffing and provision of other office services. This amount is decided by agreement with IPSA and is substantially cheaper than the cost of maintaining a separate staffed office in the constituency.
 

Without going into every detail of the cost of every paper clip, the major additional items of expenditure for last year were:

  • Cost of computer support contract
  • Room hire for surgeries and public meetings
  • Subscription to Parliamentary Resources Unit for research support for constituent    correspondence etc
  • New computer printer
  • Cost of Parliamentary mobile phone
  • General stationery and office supplies
 

Travel

MPs can claim the cost of travel to and from Parliament and also to and from and within their constituencies. In addition front benchers can claim the cost of travel to projects around the country relevant to their brief (in Tim's case children and young people). MPs can also claim expenses of travel to other EU capitals on Parliamentary business. Tim has only claimed for European trips on 2 occasions in his 13 years in Parliament.

In total I claimed £3,915 on travel in 2010/11. I usually travel to Westminster by train so this is made up of train travel and car mileage remunerated at the standard Inland Revenue rate of 45p per mile.

 
 

Expenses
 

Figures in brackets are ranks. Parliament's explanatory notes.


 

 

Type

2007/08 (ranking out of 645)
2006/07 (ranking out of 645)
2005/06
2004/05 (ranking out of 659)
2003/04 (ranking out of 658)
2002/03 (ranking out of 657)
2001/02 (ranking out of 657)
Additional Costs Allowance
£23,083 (joint 1st)
£22,110 (joint 1st)
£21,634
£20,902 (joint 1st)
£20,282 (joint 206th)
£19,700 (joint 268th)
£15,234 (328th)
London Supplement
£0
£0
£0
£0
£0
£0
£0
Incidental Expenses Provision
£17,618 (364th)
£27,786 (46th)
£18,043
£15,583 (468th)
£18,793 (joint 228th)
£17,456 (451st)
£15,840 (319th)
Staffing Allowance
£92,413 (112th)
£77,946 (503rd)
£81,167
£76,645 (109th)
£70,328 (172nd)
£68,350 (142nd)
£49,540 (199th)
Communications Allowance
£1,759 (563rd)
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Members' Travel
£8,012 (joint 296th)*
£10,034 (212th)**
£6,407
£9,980 (338th)
£11,775 (257th)
£10,557 (304th)
£8,098 (316th)
Members' Staff Travel
£21 (joint 425th)
£77 (392nd)
£60
£27 (joint 455th)
£10 (481st)
£0
£0
Members' Spouse Travel
£262 (joint 276th)
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Members' Family Travel
£19 (112th)
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Centrally Purchased Stationery
£556 (459th)
£573 (joint 490th)
£618
£576 (461st)
£346 (583rd)
£1,346 (joint 204th)
£653 (joint 488th)
Stationery: Associated Postage Costs
£1,084 (553rd)
£820 (601st)
£1,455
£2,144 (384th)
£1,395 (506th)
N/A
N/A
Centrally Provided Computer Equipment
£1,148 (joint 419th)
£1,006 (joint 416th)
£0
£1,928 (256th)
£1,928 (251st)
£1,928 (245th)
£1,928 (232nd)
Other Costs
£0
£0
£0
£0
£0
£0
£0
Total
£145,975 (337th)
£140,352 (joint 277th)
£129,384
£127,785 (234th)
£124,857 (207th)

 

 


Since the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) took over the responsibility of MPs expenses last year, you can find all my latest claims by using the following calculator...


http://www.parliamentary-standards.org.uk/default.aspx


 

This website is maintained through the Parliamentary Office Costs Allowance and by Tim Loughton personally
website > funkymartlet.com