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Expenses – what can MPs claim?

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 28 July 2009

Parliament has released an updated version of the Green Book – the official guide to what MPs can claim in allowances and expenses. Here is a full breakdown of the payments which can be claimed on top of an MPs' salary.

The House of Commons by night (credit: Getty images)

On top of a £64,766 parliamentary salary, MPs are entitled to claim a number of allowances. All are tax-free unless stated.

Changes are in the pipeline: party leaders have indicated they will sign up to the recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, which is currently conducting an inquiry into MPs expenses.

Accommodation Expenditure (PAAE)

What it's for:  To cover the cost of needing to stay in two places – a constituency and near parliament. It replaces the controversial Additional Costs Allowance, which was worth a similar amount but now looks to be forever associated with the John Lewis list, moats and duck houses.

How much: up to £24,222 a year

What can be claimed:

1) Accommodation:

MPs with constituencies outside inner London can claim for either mortgage interest, the rental of a property, or hotel costs, in either London or their constituency. There is now a £1,250 monthly cap on the eligible cost of mortgage interest, newly rented properties and hotel bills.

MPs can also claim for council tax, utility bills, buildings and contents insurance and service charges. However, claims for furniture and home improvements are no longer permitted.

The expenses scandal saw a number of MPs being criticised for “flipping” their designated second home and therefore appearing to benefit from allowances on more than one property. MPs have to tell authorities the address of their main and second home, and can only change which is which in “exceptional”cases.

MPs who are married to each other or are civil partners must nominate the same main home, and are limited to claiming a maximum of one person’s allowance between them.

Receipts must be provided for every claim at or over £25, except for:

2) Subsistence

A flat-rate subsistence allowance of £25 for any night which an MP spends away from their home on parliamentary business.

London MPs:  MPs with constituencies in inner London cannot claim PAAE; and from April 2010, no MP with a constituency inside 20 miles of Westminster will be eligible. Instead, MPs get the London Costs Allowance – a £7,500 salary top-up which is subject to tax and national insurance.

Administrative and Office Expenditure (AOE)

What it's for: facilities, equipment, supplies and services for MPs and their staff.

How much: £22,393

What can be claimed:

Constituency office or surgery accommodation - office rent, utility bills and insurance.

Equipment and supplies for the office or surgery - including computers, printers, faxes, photocopiers, desks, stationery, phone bills, some postage costs (in addition to AOE, MPs can also claim for a certain amount of Commons stationery and pre-paid envelopes)

Recruitment and training of staff

Certain travel costs, such as staff taxis, not met out of travel expenditure (see below)

Staffing Expenditure

What it's for: employing staff to help an MP perform their parliamentary duties – for example, secretaries, researchers. This is the biggest single allowance.

How much: up to £103,812

What can be claimed:

Staff salaries and employer’s national insurance contributions

Bonuses and overtime payments

Payments for bought-in services

Additional staff costs

Redundancy payments

Settlements made at tribunals and court hearings

Travel Expenditure

What it's for:  the cost of journeys necessary for parliamentary duties, such as travel between Westminster and the constituency, and within the constituency. MPs can also claim for relevant travel in the UK and up to three return trips to Europe. Some allowances for MPs' families and staff, too.

How much:  no overall limit. Motor mileage - 40 pence per mile for the first 10,000 miles and 25 pence per mile thereafter; motorcycle - 24 pence per mile; and bicycle - 20 pence per mile.

What can be claimed:  Fares for journeys by public transport

Mileage for cars, motorbikes and bicycles

Reasonable parking (though not parking fines)

Taxis and private hire car cost

Reasonable cost of overnight accommodation where a journey has had to be broken due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of the person undertaking the journey

Family travel:  MPs' spouses, civil partners and children up to the age of 18 are each entitled to up to 30 single journeys a year between London and the constituency or the MPs' main home.

Staff travel:  MPs' staff can also share up to 24 single journeys between London and the constituency a year, so long as they are necessary to help the MP carry out their parliamentary business.

Communications expenditure

What it's for:  to help MPs inform their constituents about their work, although it can't be used for party political purposes.

How much: up to £10,400 per year

What can be claimed:

Expenses for reports and constituency newsletters; questionnaires, surveys and petitions

Contact cards

Distribution costs

Advertising of surgeries and constituency meetings

Websites

Extra funds include:

Resettlement Grant

Payable to all MPs who lose their seats, or decide not to stand, at the next general election. Can be worth 50 per cent to 100 per cent of the MPs' annual salary, depending on how long they have been in parliament.

Security budget – parliament may contribute up to £2,000 to the costs of security measures to protect MPs, their staff or constituency office equipment if advised by local police.

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