There is much misinformation regarding the expenses that Members of Parliament are entitled to. I have created this webpage in the interest of transparency to try and dispel any myths that might occur.
Since 2010, responsibility for deciding the salaries and expenses of Members of Parliament has rested with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). IPSA is a public body which was established by statute. It works independently of the Government and any Members of Parliament.
Members of Parliament no longer set either the level of parliamentary salaries or the rules that govern expenses. In addition, IPSA has responsibility for the administration of parliamentary pensions. 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
Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs & Expenses
IPSA covers the costs that are necessary for MP’s to perform their parliamentary functions. This is called the Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs and Expenses, or simply ‘the Scheme’. It sets out a series of fundamental principles and rules within which MPs must operate, while allowing them appropriate discretion over making claims, where it has been clearly stated. 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
MPs Pay and Pensions
IPSA has a statutory duty to review MP’s remuneration 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 basis salary for MPs is £81,932. In December 2020, IPSA decided that the salary for Members of Parliament would remain unchanged for the financial year 2021/22. I receive no additional remuneration for my roles on the Defence Select Committee, nor any of the other groups that I serve on in Parliament, such as the All-Party Parliamentary Groups.
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 arranging and attending meetings, co-ordinating the diary, answering correspondence, carrying out surgeries, visits, meetings, organising events, and co-ordinating outreach activities. I firmly believe that my focus should be in the constituency and that is why all my staff are based in the constituency. This budget covers members of staff on the payroll, pooled staffing services, 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. My constituency office is open Monday to Friday. In the last year, we have worked on almost 8,000 cases. These cases have been on immigration, housing, education, health services, including Coronavirus and many more areas.
- Office Costs for renting, equipping, and running an office. It includes rent, stationery, telephone, broadband, and other costs associated with running an office and communicating with constituents. I chose to locate my office in Chapel Ash, the heart of my constituency. This enables me to best serve my constituents in Wolverhampton. It has always been my intention to provide a safe and discrete environment for my surgeries. This will return once Covid-19 restrictions allow.
- Accommodation Budget. I am required to be in Parliament for the first four days of every week to fulfil duties such as voting, attending select committee meetings, asking questions in the House of Commons, meeting with Ministers and other duties. Sittings often run very late into the evening and meetings can commence early in the day before official businesses of the House of Commons begins. The accommodation budget covers costs in either the constituency or London, not both.
- Travel and subsistence allowance is for travel between the constituency and Westminster and travel within the constituency and elsewhere when on parliamentary business.
- First Class rail travel: MPs must consider value for the taxpayer when booking rail tickets. MPs can only travel First Class if the fare is demonstrably cheaper than a standard class ticket. I have never travelled first class in my role as an MP.
- Food and Drinks: It has recently been circulated that MPs receive £25 per day for food. I can assure you that 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.
- Staff Expenses: 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.
- 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 and have not had any discrepancies with any of my expenses.
- Staffing: I have read comments on social media that neither I nor my staff live in Wolverhampton. This is untrue. My family and I moved to the constituency before I was even elected as an MP. Four of the five members of staff that I employ live in Wolverhampton, two of them have lived here for more than thirty years. The other member of staff lives elsewhere in the West Midlands.
- 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, 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.
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. You will see that my claims are around the average for other MPs.