MPs have repaid nearly £390,000 in profits judged to have been made on taxpayer-funded homes, says Ipsa, Parliament’s expenses watchdog. The highest payment was £81,446 by Welsh Secretary David Jones, one of 71 MPs who continued to claim towards mortgage interest payments until 2012. They had to repay a share of any capital gain and most have now done so. But Tory Stewart Jackson says Ipsa is bullying him by taking legal action to get him to pay £54,000 it says he owes. All MPs used to be able to claim expenses towards the cost of mortgage interest payments on their “second homes”. But changes introduced in 2010, following the expenses scandal, stopped the practice for all new MPs. Most now rent properties or stay in temporary accommodation like hotels if they need a base in London. MPs who had already bought properties under the old system were allowed to continue to claim mortgage interest payments until August 2012 – as long as they agreed to repay a share of any profit made over that period, even if they chose not to sell. ‘Heavy handed’ Properties were valued by a surveyor in 2010 and again in 2012 – and the amount MPs had to repay depended on how much they had claimed, and how much the property’s value had risen by. Mr Jackson, who claimed £32,494 over the two years, has been told to repay £54,000 based on valuations of his home in Peterborough. Ipsa says it has filed a claim at the High Court to recoup the money. But Mr Jackson says the watchdog’s actions are “heavy handed and disproportionate and are clearly intended to bully me into submission”. He disputes valuations of his property done in 2010 and 2012 and says they assume his property rose by almost 20% in value, while others in his constituency fell by 3% over the same period. He still lives in the house and points out that he is being asked to repay more than he claimed. “IPSA have negotiated with 70 other MPs in a secretive and arbitrary manner but in respect of my case, regrettably, they have refused to negotiate. I am merely seeking fair play and consistency and will pursue legal action to receive it.” No profits In total, the 71 MPs claimed £926,159 of public money to cover mortgage interest over the 15-month period. Twenty nine of them were told to repay a total of £484,828 – of which nearly £390,000 has been repaid so far. The largest claims were made by Labour’s Michael Connarty – who received £34,168 and has repaid £6,833 – and Mr Jackson. But 42 of the 71 MPs have not had to repay anything, as their properties fell in value over the period. Among those repaying the most are Mr Jones, Conservative MP for Clwyd West, who claimed £18,060 in expenses but due to rising value of his London property has had to repay £81,446. The DUP’s Gregory Campbell, who claimed £16,755 towards a London property he still owns, has repaid £61,403. Conservative Philip Hammond repaid £34,610 – more than the £20,967 he claimed and DUP MP David Simpson paid back £30, 308 having claimed £11,208. Some are still repaying money, such as Conservative David Willetts and Labour’s John Denham, who have not sold their properties, and Lib Dem Andrew George.
All In This Together? Yet again I say NO.