3 Nov 2013

MPs feel the heat after claiming energy bills on expenses

The rising cost of energy is now a key political issue. But it has been revealed that MPs are claiming thousands of pounds in expenses for energy bills at their second homes – at a cost to taxpayers.

MPs are facing criticism for claiming £200,000 in taxpayers’ money to cover their energy bills at a time when home heating costs are rising.

Some 340 MPs, including government ministers, have used parliamentary expenses to cover the cost of heating their second homes, the Sunday Mirror revealed.

Bills of over £1,000 were submitted by 41 MPs while 78 made claims for £500 in the 12 months up to March of this year, analysis found.

MPs have not broken any parliamentary rules but the revelation comes at a time of heightened tensions over spiralling costs of gas and electricity.

Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, founder of market research firm YouGov, claimed the most with a bill of £5,822.27 covering electricity and heating oil for his Warwickshire estate.

International Development Minister Alan Duncan claimed £2,750 for electricity bills and £1,250 in heating oil for his home in Rutland, Leicestershire and Universities Minister David Willetts, claimed £2,596.

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Labour MP John Mann, who did not claim for his energy bills, said MPs who submitted the claims should start “wearing thicker jumpers”.

Speaking to the Sunday Mirror he said: “There will be people including pensioners who can’t afford to heat their homes who will be furious to find out that MPs who can afford to pay them are putting in such high claims.

“Government ministers are attacking Ed Miliband for proposing to freeze prices but they don’t have to worry about the cost because they can put the claims in.”

Costs rise

Energy industry regulator Ofgem analysis this week showed that increases announced by four of the Big Six have averaged 9.1 per cent with wholesale prices rising by 1.7 per cent.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said “It’s disgraceful that well-paid MPs should claim expenses for heating costs at the same time that thousands of families are struggling to pay to turn the oven on to cook dinner for their families.

“These are the same hypocritical MPs who have failed to get a grip on soaring fuel and energy costs, rising food bills and pay freezes.”