Residents sometimes contact me about the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority's (IPSA) regulation of MPs expenses and I wished to create this webpage to set out clearly the facts around MPs costs.
Since 2010, responsibility for deciding the salaries and expenses of Members of Parliament has rested with the IPSA. IPSA is a public body which was established by statute. It works independently of the Government and any Members of Parliament. I do not control IPSA's decisions.
Members of Parliament no longer set either the level of parliamentary salaries or the rules that govern our costs, which are commonly referred to as expenses. In addition, IPSA has responsibility for the administration of parliamentary pensions.
MPs Pay and Pensions
IPSA has a statutory duty to review the remuneration of MPs in the first year of each Parliament. Following a three-year review by IPSA which was concluded in 2015, it was decided that MPs’ salaries would be benchmarked against average pay rises for public sector workers and updated on an annual basis. Changes in MPs pay would take effect in the April of each year, based on changes to public sector pay in the previous October. This means that MPs’ pay reflect developments in the wider economy.
As of the 1st of April 2020, the annual basic salary for MPs is £81,932.
In 2020 I wrote to IPSA, with colleagues, to state my view that MPs should not receive a pay rise given the pandemic and enormous challenges faced by constituents. We were successful in lobbying for our pay not to increase. In December 2020 IPSA decided that the salary for MPs would remain unchanged for the financial year 2021/22. I receive no additional remuneration for my roles on the Foreign Affairs and National Security Select Committees, nor any of the All-Party Parliamentary Groups I have founded or serve on.
I have taken no secondary employment while employed as your MP.
Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs & Expenses
IPSA covers the costs that are necessary for MPs to perform their parliamentary functions, these are commonly referred to as expenses. There is a clear scheme which sets out a series of fundamental principles and rules within which MPs must operate. The Scheme is regularly reviewed to ensure that the budgets and rules remain up to date. The Twelfth Edition of the Scheme is effective from the 1st of April 2020 for the 2020-21 financial year. It can be found at www.theipsa.org.uk
In January 2021 IPSA made an error with my costs and expenses, and despite six months chasing for a correction as I had identified the error back in August, my annual costs were published with mistakes which put my costs at 25% higher than they actually were. IPSA is working to correct this.
MPs are allocated a budget to be able to employ staff and competently carry out their duties in their role as Member of Parliament. This falls into various categories as follows for the year 2019-20.
- Staffing Budget to employ staff to assist with supporting residents in need of help, arranging and attending meetings, co-ordinating the diary, answering correspondence, carrying out surgeries, visits, meetings, organising events, and co-ordinating outreach activities. This budget covers members of staff on the payroll, pooled staffing services, training for my team and occasional expenses for volunteers. This money is paid directly to the employee via the payroll department of IPSA, the same as any normal staff salaries. I have three staff based in my constituency office in Melton, and two staff in London. My constituency office is open Monday to Friday (please call or email to book an appointment) however I operate my office seven days a week during the pandemic. In the last year, my team and I have supported tens of thousands of constituents through the pandemic. My staffing costs may be higher than other MPs, but I strongly defend paying my staff fairly for the exceptional work they do.
- Office Costs for renting, equipping, and running an office. This includes office rent, stationery, telephone, required programmes, broadband, paper, printers, computers, staff equipment and other costs associated with running an office and communicating with constituents. These are the standard costs that any organisation or business incurs. My office is in the centre of Melton Mowbray, however during the pandemic my team have set up home offices.
- Accommodation Budget in recognition of the fact I am required to be in Parliament Monday-Thursday every week to advocate for constituents with the Government, to vote, attend select committee meetings, ask questions in the House of Commons, meet with Ministers and other duties. Sittings often run very late into the evening, for example on Monday nights business does not conclude until 10pm with voting normally starting at 10pm. The accommodation budget covers costs in either the constituency or London, not both. I claim for a rental property in London as our family home is in Rutland and Melton.
- Set Up Budget is to enable new MPs to establish and set up a new office, like any business. When you are elected as a MP you need to find an office, decorate and furnish it with everything your staff and constituents need. As a result MPs in their first year always have higher costs than other MPs.
- Travel and subsistence allowance is for travel between the constituency and Westminster and travel within the constituency and elsewhere when on parliamentary business for me, and my staff. I travel to down to London and back each week, with my family. Whilst permitted, I do not claim for any travel I undertake within the constituency, although I do allow my team to claim when they are incurring petrol costs for driving around the constituency for official business.
- Staffing expenses are for where staff undertake duties on my behalf, or undertake training in the course of their duties, IPSA has said that they can claim for expenditure incurred, such as travel, car parking, hotels, and meals, but only up to strictly controlled limits. Most employers have similar rules.
IPSA publishes details of the expenses that are claimed by every MP. You can find that information and full details of the expenses scheme that has been established by IPSA at www.theipsa.org.uk. Please note - in January 2021 IPSA made an error with my expenses, and despite six months chasing for a correction as I had identified the error back in August, my annual costs were published with mistakes which put my costs at 25% higher than they actually were. IPSA is working to correct this.
- Food and Drinks: It has recently been circulated that MPs receive £25 per day for food. This is not the case. MPs may only claim for the cost of purchasing food and non-alcoholic drinks where they have stayed overnight either outside the London area or their constituency. This is limited to £25 for each night they have stayed but can be for purchases made in the day. I have never claimed any expenses for food and drinks in Parliament.
- Subsidised Food and Drinks in Parliament: Catering services for the House of Commons are provided by an in-house team who do not provide a subsidised service in the commercial sense of the word. Rather, some venues make a profit, which is used to contribute to overall running costs elsewhere. This supports venues that are unable to meet costs due to the irregular hours and unpredictability of parliamentary business. MPs only make up a tiny proportion of the customers which use on-site catering venues, which includes almost 15,000 passholders such as staff, security personnel, journalists and civil servants as well as many non-passholders visiting Parliament. The number of canteens open is reduced during recess and opening hours are cut as fewer passholders are in Parliament or working late. The total costs to the House of Commons have more than halved since 2011.
- Over-run on Budgets: Any over-run on these budget limits at the end of the year has to be repaid to IPSA by the MP. I have always kept within the specified limits.
Historical information on my expenditure is fully transparent and available on the IPSA website at http://www.theipsa.org.uk/mp-costs/your-mp/. There are other websites available. The other websites do not necessarily give the full picture. It’s always better to consult the IPSA website for the totally accurate and official picture.