MPs are allowed to claim an extra £10,000 in expenses to help them work from home during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a Times investigation the money has been allocated to help remote working members of parliament and their staff pay for laptops, printers and additional electricity, heating and phone bills.
It comes on top of the existing £26,000 a year that MPs can each claim to cover their office costs.
New guidance published last month by the Indpendent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which polices the MPs’ expenses regime, said: “This is an uncertain and challenging time. Ipsa is committed to supporting MPs and their staff to carry on with their work as far as possible.”
And a letter to MPs from Richard Lloyd, the interim chair of Ipsa, said: “We have agreed a series of immediate measures that we hope will provide you with the resources and flexibility to concentrate on your parliamentary duties and support your staff.”
Relaxed rules on evidence
In addition to the extra £10,000, Ipsa has also relaxed the ruled on the evidence MPs must provide to back up their expenses claims.
But Alistair Graham, former chair of the committee on standards in public life, said he was uneasy with the decision.
He said: “It seems to me a very crude approach. I think the public may be slightly puzzled as to why what looks like a generous payment of this nature has been made without first doing a bit more research into what the actual costs are.”
Several MPs have responded angrily to the revelations over the course of today.
James Wild, MP for North West Norfolk, clarified that no extra money or pay has been given to MPs as part of the new measures, with money only available for equipment and additional bills.
Emma Hardy and Steven Bonnar said so far they haven’t needed to use the extra budget.
The SNP MP for Coatbridge Chryston and Bellshill said: “My staff were organised early & used existing office equipment to set up at home weeks ago, so have not required new equipment.
“My office will therefore not need to claim monies from that contingency budget.”
The full IPSA measures are outlined below:
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