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7 May 2010: New expenses rules for MPs introduced today

The new rules governing MPs' expenses come into force today.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is now solely responsible for assessing and determining all claims, and for the reimbursement of valid expenses.  It also has responsibility for the payment of the salaries of MPs and their staff.

The rules set by IPSA, represent a clean break with the previous allowances system and are based on reimbursement of tightly controlled expenses, up to certain financial limits, rather than flat rate allowances.  They include:

  • an end to “second homes”. In future MPs will use rented accommodation.  There will be a two-year transitional period for returning MPs who currently claim mortgage interest expenses.
  • a wider definition of “London area” reducing the number of MPs eligible for accommodation expenses.
  • a limit on expenditure for any train journey fixed at the cost of a standard class open ticket.
  • changes to the employment of family members by allowing only one “connected party” to be employed at any given time.

The new rules will be operated via an online expenses system requiring MPs to submit claims along with proof of payment. IPSA has put in place a range of measures to ensure MPs and their staff are properly trained to use the new system, including:

  • induction sessions running from Monday 10 May to Friday 21 May in which MPs will be given first-hand training.
  • information on the services provided by IPSA to enable MPs to make claims.
  • a telephone information line to provide advice to MPs and staff on using the new system.
  • talks for groups of MPs to explain the new rules.
  • half-day training sessions for staff held in London and regionally across the UK in June.

A number of former MPs have helped “road test” the new online system over recent weeks to ensure the system is ready for the new Parliament.

All MPs’ expenses claims and payments will be made public on the IPSA website. The first publications will be made in July.  IPSA is due to publish a consultation paper soon to establish the exact form in which expenses claims are published.

IPSA is operating a system of loans and advances to assist MPs with payment of essential expenditure such as deposits or rent for residential or office accommodation and office equipment.

Chairman of IPSA, Sir Ian Kennedy, said:

"The new expenses rules represent a clean break from what went before.   They are fair, workable and transparent, and signal a new culture of independent regulation holding MPs to account.

“I believe that, over time, the rules will help to restore public trust in the way expenses are claimed and paid to MPs.”

Chief Executive of IPSA, Andrew McDonald, said:

"The new online system is designed to ensure the payment of expenses is done in an open and efficient way.  Implementing it effectively will take time and effort on behalf of IPSA and MPs themselves.

"We have therefore put in place a comprehensive range of training and support to ensure MPs and their staff are able to operate what is a completely new system.

“Working to such a tight timetable has presented IPSA with a significant operational challenge.  But I am confident that the system, once bedded down, will work well for MPs and the wider public alike.”

ENDS

Notes to media

  • 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
  • IPSA is made up of four board members and a Chair. They were appointed through an independent, rigorous, fair and open competition.
  • Andrew McDonald is the Interim Chief Executive of IPSA.