Parliament's reformed expenses system may have shone the spotlight on MPs' allowances, but it does not appear to have substantially cut the amount they spend.
Figures released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) watchdog yesterday revealed the Commons' 650 MPs spent a combined total of £89.4 million, up 26% on the £71 million in 2010/11.
The discrepancy is due to 2010 being a general election year, Ipsa said. But it means that MPs are now close to the £95.4 million they spent in 2008/09 and £90.7 million in 2009/10 before the expenses scandal broke.
"There will be some who might say 'this is too much' or 'I could do it for less'. But we should look at the issue in more depth," Ipsa's chair Sir Ian Kennedy said.
"MPs are there to represent us. If we want to be able to see our MP, contact their staff – and it is in on MPs' staff where most of this expense goes, visit MPs' offices, have them write to us, represent us in parliament, and help us with problems in the constituency, we have to face the fact that there is a cost to doing so. If we want a good service from our MPs, we have to fund them."
He added: "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."
MPs purchased over 50 iPads in the last 12 months, but most stuck to the rules. Ninety-nine per cent of claims were judged acceptable. Six of the seven rejected claims were from former environment secretary Chris Huhne, who made a series of requests for reimbursement for mileage claims totalling under £5.
Former prime minister Gordon Brown received £127,197 – equating to over £40,000 for each of the three speeches he made in the Commons during the year.