Each year, MPs are permitted to claim for certain expenditure, such as on staffing, office costs (including accommodation and equipment), and travel. A wholly independent body, namely the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (“IPSA”), regulate this field, including in determining budgets, with which MPs have no involvement or influence.
IPSA have recently published the annual figures for the 2019-2020 financial year.
As in previous years I am pleased to report that I have significantly underspent my budget for staffing, accommodation and office costs, saving the taxpayer more than £43,000 for the 2019-2020 financial year.
This means that, since becoming an MP in 2010, I have saved the taxpayer more than £494,000 of my allocated budget. This does not include huge savings made from claimable travel costs, for which I have never claimed a penny in my ten years of service.
Indeed, I have once again continued my policy of claiming nothing for travel or similar incidentals in the last financial year, faring very well compared to MPs’ average costs and therefore saving substantially more for taxpayers than most MPs.
Indeed, for the 2019-2020 financial year, I have saved the taxpayer more than £43,000 by underspending my allocated budgets.
The Northampton Chronicle & Echo newspaper have recently published an article relating to this, paying particular focus towards the seven Northamptonshire MPs. See: https://www.northantstelegraph.co.uk/news/politics/mp-expenses-2020-heres-how-much-politicians-northamptonshire-claimed-last-year-3100603
I always look to save taxpayers’ money wherever possible; this year, MPs were allocated an additional £10,000 due to working adjustments resulting from Covid, such as staff having to work from home for large periods. I treat taxpayers’ money with enormous care, and it may interest you to know that I have spent ZERO (£0) of this additional budget.
For example: rather than purchase laptops/computers for my staff, even from my available and existing budget, I borrowed laptops for my staff from the House of Commons authorities for free - at zero cost to the taxpayer - to allow my staff to work remotely. Savings such as this will be reflected in this current financial year (2020-2021) report, which will be published next year.
There is no cap set on the sum which MPs can claim for travel. (The sum claimed will of course vary depending how far a constituency is from Westminster).
However, since I was first elected in May 2010, I have never claimed anything at all in travel costs.
This means that I have not claimed for any train ticket between Northampton and London; I have not claimed for a single litre of petrol for travelling around Northampton on my parliamentary duties or between London and Northampton; I have not claimed for one taxi journey, not even for bicycle use (which can also be claimed). I have also never claimed anything for the payment of the London Congestion Charge.
All these costs over the last ~10 years I have met out of my own salary. My total claims for Travel are therefore £0 again this year.
MPs are permitted to claim for the necessary costs of maintaining an office to serve their constituents. Since becoming an MP in May 2010 I have always massively underspent my annual Budget for Office Costs.
In the last financial year 2019-2020 the Office Budget for all MPs was £35,430 each.
Of that budget this past year I spent only £7,390.92. This means I have underspent my office budget by over £28,000 in the last financial year.
This is similar to my rate of saving for the taxpayer in all previous financial years since 2010; I have underspent my Budget by well in excess of £15,000 each year. (Full details of previous year’s spending can be found on my website).
MPs are permitted to claim the salaries of staff working for them in their parliamentary duties. An annual Budget in the region of £155,000 is currently available.
Since becoming an MP in May 2010 I have always significantly underspent my annual Budget for Staffing Costs. Latest figures show that I have continued that practice in this fiscal year:
In the last financial year 2019-2020 the Staffing Budget for all MPs was £155,930.00.
Of that Budget I have spent £142,828.88. This means I have underspent my staffing budget by over £13,000.
I have underspent my budget by many thousands of pounds in each fiscal year and full details of earlier years are on my website.
FOOD AND DRINK:
Until the 2015 General Election MPs were permitted to claim for food and drink at the Houses of Parliament if the House of Commons continued its business past 7.30pm, which it regularly does. This was set at a maximum of £15 per day.
However, since I was first elected in May 2010, I never claimed anything at all in food and drink costs.
This means I met the cost of my own food, and also any hospitality I put on for visiting constituents, from my own salary.
My total claims for food and drink are therefore £0 over the five years from 2010-2015.
Since May 2015 MPs have not been permitted to claim expenses for food and drink, even when the House sits late into the evening.
MPs are permitted a budget to pay for their accommodation (unless they live in the Greater London area in which case they cannot claim accommodation costs).
The allowance figure is set at the rate of market rent for a one-bedroom flat in Westminster, which is about £22,000 per annum. The MP is not permitted to own a property and then claim rent for it.
I have normally claimed close to the full amount for accommodation costs but for the 2019-2020 financial year I saved more than £2,000 for the taxpayer.
I rent a small, one-bedroom flat in the Westminster area. The rent is paid direct to the Landlord (in my case called the Passion Property Group), and not to me - and I have no personal connections to the landlord.
For details of previous annual spending since my election in 2010 please see my website: www.michaelellis.co.uk
You can also check the accuracy of all the above information via the independent IPSA website on https://www.theipsa.org.uk/mp-costs/annual-publication/.
Please note that these figures do not apply to ministerial duties, which are calculated separately.