Well, there’s a headline to start the week with. If you’re feeling charitable please feel free to forward new quills to Angry Towers, this one’s getting worn out.
It took me quite a while to locate the document referred to in this article on Sky News, but I found it in the end. IPSA may be ‘transparent’, but they certainly don’t believe in making it easy to find stuff, but while I was squirrelling I did find reference to a Freedom of Information Request which relates to MPs renting from other MPs. I don’t know about you but I’d love to read that, trouble is that all their #FOI correspondence is published under a reference number, making it difficult to locate a specific enquiry, but as an infrequent betting man my money would be on “Refused to Answer” or “Information Not Held”.
Going back to the matter in hand, the Sky Headline is a tad misleading (no surprises there) but not too inaccurate.
It’s not just MPs Expenses which constitutes the £100 million but a shed load of other stuff as well.
You can choose from;
- Constituency Office Spend
- Accommodation Spend
- Staffing Spend
- Winding Up Spend (I quite like that one)
- Startup Spend
- Misc Spend [sic]
Then there’s a few really interesting columns where they have to declare things like
- Connected Party
- Connected Party Salary
- Connected Party Job
Three of our illustrious MPs actually claim salaries for TWO members of their family etc, including the ever-present Nadine Dorries, who never seems to be out of our news. She appears to have claimed for her two daughters, Philippa and Jennifer as her Office Manager and Senior Secretary respectively, but Philippa may have now left. Mind you £40-£45,000 is not bad money for an Office Manager.
My own MP, up here in DeadBadgerShire seems to employ his wife as his Senior Parliamentary Assistant at a salary of £30-£35,000 in addition to his own salary of £100,000+. When’s the next General Election? I might stand.
So, getting back to the £100,000,000.
This is made up of
Constituency Office – £10,400,00
Accommodation – £6,640,000
Travel – £4,215,000
Staffing – £2,425,000
Winding Up – £10,662
Start Up – £25,645
Miscellaneous – £56,000
Salaries – £74,000,000
TOTAL SPEND £97,644,635 and I believe that wives, girlfriends, sons, daughters etc cost extra to this figure.
So as you can see, it’s not all simple expenses, but a bloody lot of money nevertheless.
And whilst we’re on the subject of MPs expenses, I butted into someone else’s conversation this morning about MPs claiming Council Tax as an Expense.
It took me about 2 minutes to discover that in 2012 there were 990 claims for Council Tax totalling £255,550.
I also noted a bit of sneaking by IPSA. They publish these figures in spreadsheets which you can easily (?) download. Most people I know process spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel which has a physical limit of 65,536 rows of data, but the spreadsheet for 2012-2013 contains 99,069 rows of data, which means that most people will miss about 33,000 rows of data (claims), about one third of the total.
A cursory examination of the 99,069 claims for EXPENSES by MPs last year shows that they totalled £14,600,543 of which only £3,105 was unpaid for whatever reason. I’m not quite sure what that tells me, but in olden times that would suggest that if a form had a signature on it the claim was paid. But I might be wrong, our MPs might just be very good at submitting Expenses claims and get them right almost every time.
But of the claims NOT paid I was particularly impressed by one North West MP who had one claim for £3 rejected on the basis that it was a Duplicate Claim. Fair Enough. What was it for? I hear you ask. Window Cleaning at his office. Send that Window Cleaner round here, I’ll pay £3 to get my windows cleaned.
How much is YOUR MP costing the country? Ask me nicely and I might just tell you