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25 March 2011: Scheme Review

Today IPSA has unveiled a package of adjustments to the rules governing MPs’ expenses and simplifications to the process for claiming them.

For the first time, IPSA has introduced independent oversight, transparency and assurance to MPs’ expenses. And in our first ten months, we have delivered £18million savings for the taxpayer. In this review we focus on making sure the Scheme allows MPs to do their job and provides assurance and transparency to the public. The changes are fair to the public and MPs alike.

We have always said there would be aspects of the scheme we would need to look at in the light of experience to ensure the system evolves, is simple and fair to taxpayers and MPs.

Following the public consultation and the consideration of the evidence we have gathered from our first 10 months of operation, we have decided that certain changes are called for. We judge these to be in the public interest to support MPs in doing their jobs and to give the taxpayer a fair deal. So, today, we have announced that:

  • We are extending the definition of caring responsibilities to provide more support to MPs with dependent children.
  • We are changing the definition of the London Area to be 20 miles from Westminster – 97 MPs will be defined as London MPs.
  • We are simplifying the structure of the budgets for office costs and making clear the distinction between business costs and personal expenses.
  • We are revising MPs’ staffing budget to reflect the needs of MPs’ offices.

We are also restating our commitment to transparency and assurance to the public. We will continue to check all claims and to publish them.

We do not consider it is the public interest to make other changes which have been urged. Thus, there will be no reversion to the old allowances system, there will be no change on mortgage interest, or on first class travel.

We are also focusing on how we can simplify the system to avoid its being unduly burdensome for MPs. We are today announcing a number of changes which will be introduced in the coming months, including:

  • Expanding further the use of payment cards.
  • Expanding further the availability of direct payments.
  • Simplifying the process for claims mileage claims.
  • Improving the technology to make it easier to use.

This package of changes to the rules and their administration, builds on the initial scheme based on our core principles of fairness, transparency and workability. Our rules and approach to implementing them provides the assurance the public demands, and makes sure that MPs are properly supported in carrying out their Parliamentary duties.

Sir Ian Kennedy, IPSA chairman said:

“It is right and fair to keep the rules on MPs’ expenses under review, to make sure they are appropriate and to see they evolve as is necessary to meet the needs of the public and MPs.

 “From the consultation it is clear there are some areas which would benefit from change and some which should not be changed. The key to the changes is that there can be no going back to the old ways but we must be fair to MPs and ensure that there are robust mechanisms of accountability and transparency for the taxpayer.

“IPSA was required by Parliament to make a clean break:  introducing independence, openness and transparency to the system. We have done so.  There have been no scandals and the system is working. These are helpful strides forward on the way to restoring the public’s confidence in Parliament.

“We were handed a difficult job and have worked in a very challenging environment. But when you take view of where we were under the old system and where we are now – the difference is remarkable.”

END

Notes to editor:

For more details, please contact the IPSA press office.