MPs claim £86m in allowances

MPs' allowances and expenses are published
MPs' allowances and expenses are published

Members of parliament claimed more than £86 million in staff costs and other allowances last year, new figures have revealed.

The £86,779,722 claimed in the year to April was up from £80,844,465 in the previous year, but included £4 million incurred by MPs who lost their seats at the last general election.

Eric Joyce, Labour MP for Falkirk, claimed the most money of all 646 members, putting in £174,811 worth of expenses. At the other end of the spectrum, Conservative Kettering MP Phillip Hollobone claimed £62,600.

The allowances are available to pay for MPs' private offices and staff, and transport around the country. Up to £20,000 can be claimed by MPs with constituencies outside central London, to pay for accommodation when they need to be near Westminster.

They are in addition to MPs' basic annual salary of £59,686, which is due to rise to £60,277 on November 1st, and a generous pension.

Speaking for the members' committee on allowances, Nick Harvey MP said: "Compared to parliamentarians in other countries this represents excellent value for money."

He stressed that staff costs, which generally represent the largest proportion of allowances, were driven up by the need for MPs to be contacted "wherever and whenever necessary", saying: "This provision is tightly controlled and carefully scrutinised."

But there are concerns about how much people claim for their constituency homes while they are in London, particularly among ministers. For example, Tony Blair claimed £8,399 for his home in Sedgefield, despite living in Downing Street for free.

However, this is half what he claimed last year. Elsewhere, the prime minister spent £2,263 on his office and £75,612 on staff, with additional stationery costs taking his total allowances up to £87,342.

Gordon Brown claimed £18,661 for his home in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, alongside £83,755 on staff, £2,565 for their travel and £7,606 for his own, and £18,701 for his private office. He also claimed £3,273 in stationery and postage.

Tory leader David Cameron claimed £21,359 for staying away from home while on parliamentary business, £19,716 for his office, £83,991 in staff costs and £2,666 in his own travel. A further £7,672 was spent on stationary and postage.

Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell, a Scottish MP like Mr Brown, claimed £10,964 for staying away from home, £19,518 for running his office, £73,989 in staff costs, £13,449 for travel and £3,835 in stationery.


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