25 May 2010: IPSA strengthens implementation of new expenses rules
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has today offered MPs further short-term assistance to help with the effective implementation of the new expenses rules.
Advances will be available from tomorrow, to enable MPs to pay for up-front expenses they will incur in the first few weeks of the new Parliament. The advances will be repayable later this year.
IPSA is also changing how MPs will claim for their telephone bills. The onus will now be on MPs to account for the proportion of their calls that are made for non-parliamentary functions such as party political activities. IPSA reserves the right to audit compliance with these arrangements.
Neither change adds to the cost of the scheme as announced in March.
IPSA will be consulting next month on the scheme for publishing claims for expenses and the functions of the Compliance Officer. The recent Constitutional Reform and Governance Act requires some technical changes to the scheme and IPSA will also need to consult on them. This provides the opportunity, in a short consultation in June, to tackle a few minor anomalies. The consultation will not touch on the fundamental principles underlying the scheme, nor on its main provisions. Thereafter we plan to review the rules just once each year.
IPSA chairman, Sir Ian Kennedy, said:
“The new rules are fair, workable and transparent and represent a clean break from what went before.
“Implementing such a radical change poses significant challenges. That is why we have invested heavily in providing training and advice to MPs and their staff.
“In just two weeks we have held one-to-one induction sessions with more than 550 MPs, and dealt with around 1,000 emails and a similar number of phone calls from MPs and their staff.
“We have always said that we will listen to feedback and, where evidence is provided, make adjustments to assist the implementation of the rules.
“Some MPs have stated that the level of financial assistance to enable them to pay up-front for office rentals and equipment has been too small and will leave them out of pocket. We have looked at the evidence and we are prepared to offer further advances which we will recover later this year.
“We are also taking the opportunity of the requirement to amend the scheme following legislative changes late in the last Parliament to iron out a small number of anomalies arising from the new rules themselves.
“The Board and I want to make it as clear as possible that the new rules are here to stay. There will be no going back to the old, utterly discredited system. The independent rules and regulation are vital to help to restore public confidence.”
Notes to editors
- The advances announced today will be up to the value of £4,000.
- A letter to MPs providing further details on the consultations and the adjustments is available online at www.parliamentarystandards.org.uk
- IPSA is an independent body created by the Parliamentary Standards Act (PSA) 2009. It is not part of the Government or of Parliament.
- A copy of the new rules including the accompanying guidance is available at: www.theipsa.org.uk