The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has today announced details of a new expenses scheme for MPs.
IPSA has highlighted the following key changes in its press release:
- An end to “second homes”: IPSA will replace the “second home” with rented accommodation. From the summer, there will be a two-year transitional period for MPs who currently claim mortgage interest expenses, and IPSA will recover any taxpayer subsidy or share of gains made by MPs during this period.
- A wider definition of “London area”: MPs will not be eligible for accommodation expenses if any part of their constituency is within 20 miles of Westminster, or when a commute from any part of their constituency to Westminster is possible within 60 minutes by public transport at peak times. A total of 128 MPs*, under the new parliamentary boundaries, will be unable to claim for accommodation.
- Travel: the limit on expenditure for any train journey will be the cost of a standard class open ticket.
- Employment of family members: while not ending the practice of employing relatives, risks of abuse will be mitigated by allowing only one connected party to be employed at any given time and greatly increasing transparency. “Connected parties” includes anyone who is related to an MP by blood or marriage, but also extends to someone who co-habits with an MP and to that person’s family – and to financial partners, using a recognised definition from the commercial world.
I will look through the whole document and see what else is worthy of note.
Other measures included in the new scheme include:
- 'Winding-up' costs on leaving Parliament to be covered for only two months;
- Resettlement allowances not to be met by the taxpayer;
- Costs for items such as cleaning and gardening will no longer be met;
- There will be additional support for MPs who have children under five, are single parents, or have children getting additional support from the state.
*The 128 MPs who will under the new rules be unable to claim anything for renting a London property are all 73 MPs from Greater London along with MPs repsresenting the following 55 seats in Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey and West Sussex:
Aldershot; Basildon & Billericay; Basingstoke; Beaconsfield; Brentwood & Ongar; Broxbourne; Castle Point; Chatham & Aylesford; Chelmsford; Chesham & Amersham; Crawley; Dartford; East Surrey; Epping Forest; Epsom & Ewell; Esher & Walton; Gravesham; Guildford; Harlow; Hemel Hempstead; Hertford & Stortford; Hertsmere; Hitchin & Harpenden; Luton North; Luton South; Maidenhead; Mid Sussex; Milton Keynes North; Milton Keynes South; Mole Valley; North East Bedfordshire; North East Hampshire; North East Hertfordshire; Reading East; Reading West; Reigate; Rochester & Strood; Runnymede & Weybridge; Sevenoaks; Slough; South Basildon & East Thurrock; South West Bedfordshire; South West Hertfordshire; South West Surrey; Spelthorne; St Albans; Stevenage; Surrey Heath; Thurrock; Tonbridge & Malling; Watford; Welwyn Hatfield; Windsor; Woking; and Wycombe.
“We supported the creation of an independent regulator to determine and pay MPs’ expenses. We are grateful that IPSA have said the new scheme will be up and running by the beginning of the new Parliament. We welcome that the overall costs of this new package, and IPSA’s running costs, will be lower than at present, which we have long argued for. We believe that IPSA’s proposals should be accepted as one of the steps we need to take to clean up Parliament.”
The BBC has a handy guide here comparing the old expenses regime with the new rules.