51 MP’s have had details of their expenses redacted after it emerged many have been renting properties from each other and other associates, raising suspicion amongst taxpayers’ that their money is being wrongly used.
Changes that have been made to the expenses system mean that MP’s are no longer allowed to claim money back on mortgage interest, however, they are allowed to claim the cost of renting a flat, as long as it is no more than £20,000 a year.
This has resulted in a number of MP’s renting properties from former and current colleagues, with many still letting out other properties, even their own homes and supposedly keeping any profits. Many claim that they can no longer afford their own mortgages without the taxpayers assistance.
Details of numerous MP’s and their landlords were released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) to which The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow objected. He claimed it was causing ‘unwarranted damage and distress’. Consequently preventing details of a further 51 MP’s becoming public.
John Mann, a Labour MP went strongly against the Speaker stating “I am not in favour of publishing addresses but everything else should be made public. There is no argument to keep it secret. It gives the impression of something not being right.”
Former Defence Minister, Sir Peter Luff, who is reportedly renting a flat from a high profile, professional footballer for up to £1,600 a month, whilst at the same time letting out his home in London, had this to say:
‘This is not my preference – I would have preferred to continue to live in the flat I own, but Ipsa’s well-meaning rules designed to safeguard the taxpayers’ interests and promote transparency oblige me to do [this]. Ironically, the costs to the taxpayer would have been lower had I been allowed to continue with my previous arrangements.’
Although the arrangement that many of these MP’s have in place is not illegal, the question is why have 51 MP’s decided to keep it all a secret….
On a related note, Ipsa have also revealed that a number of MP’s are struggling to find a suitable abode in exclusive Westminster, resulting in a request for bigger housing expenses… just so they can walk to work.
This expenses revelation begs the question – why can’t a series of unoccupied offices or similar be converted to serviced accomodation for MPs, which is paid for and managed by the state. Then all these accomodation “expenses” for long considered by many MPs as tax free income, would not exist.
Those who could afford to can handle their own arrangements, without help from the state, and those who can’t can stay with their colleagues, with or without their families. This would reduce the excessive image held by the majority of the country at large: that MPs are just ‘on the make’ at our expense.