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10 May 2016: IPSA LAUNCHES CONSULTATION TO REVIEW THE MPS’ SCHEME OF BUSINESS COSTS AND EXPENSES AND IPSA’S PUBLICATION POLICY

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) today published a consultation to review the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses and IPSA’s publication policy.

You can view a copy of the consultation document here.

This is the first consultation on the MPs' Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (the Scheme) since the May 2015 General Election. It is the opportunity to establish for the rest of this Parliament how we regulate MPs’ spending of public funds and how we support MPs in carrying out their parliamentary activities. The review addresses IPSA’s strategic aim, which is to assure the public that MPs’ use of taxpayers’ money is well regulated and that MPs are resourced appropriately to carry out their parliamentary functions.

We are also taking the opportunity to consult on some changes to our Publication Scheme, partly to reflect the opportunities to improve our publication processes which new technology will bring in 2017, but also to take account of the fact that we now publish redacted images of receipts on request, following the Court of Appeal’s judgement on this matter in April 2015.

IPSA’s Chairman, Sir Ian Kennedy, said:

When IPSA was established, we introduced the Scheme. It has worked well and has provided the basis for how we regulate. We amended the Scheme in 2011 in the light of our first years’ experience, and conducted a review into staffing budgets in 2012, after which we increased MPs’ staffing budgets by up to 25 per cent in response to evidence of need. It has otherwise remained largely unchanged. Now, early in the new Parliament, it is the right time to review the whole Scheme by drawing on the evidence of the five years of the previous Parliament.

We aim to make the Scheme simpler and clearer, whilst retaining a robust approach to regulating MPs’ business costs and expenses and a commitment to supporting MPs in their parliamentary duties. There are places where we believe that we need to strengthen the rules to assure ourselves that public money is being spent appropriately; there are others where there is clear compliance and we can simplify overly-restrictive rules. We also wish to examine the rules relating to claims made just before and after General Elections, in the light of our experience in 2015.

We have not made any commitment to change any part of the Scheme. It is important for us to consult widely and openly. We wish to hear the views and evidence from a broad range of audiences, including the public, MPs and their staff.

Key areas included in the consultation are: accommodation; support for MPs and their families, including connected parties; MPs’ staffing expenditure and; the boundary between parliamentary and party political work.

We are also consulting on our publication policy. As technology advances and we make improvements to our processes and systems, we have greater flexibility in how we publish information. In April 2015, we were required by the Court of Appeal, following a request under Freedom of Information legislation, to publish the images of any receipts or invoices submitted by MPs. We are therefore consulting on whether to continue to publish MPs’ receipts only in response to requests, or as a matter of routine.”

This is a public consultation. We are keen to receive views from members of the public as well as from those directly affected by the Scheme, principally MPs and their staff. So that we can consult fully with all interested parties, and because this is a more comprehensive review compared to previous years, we propose to have a much longer consultation period. The consultation runs from 11 May and will remain open until 24 October 2016. We will announce our conclusions early in 2017 for implementation from April 2017.

Notes to editors

  1. IPSA was created by the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009. The Act gave IPSA the power to make what was called a scheme of “allowances”, and which we refer to as business costs and expenses as this more accurately describes what public funding of MPs’ parliamentary activities is for. The Act was amended in 2010, by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act, to give IPSA the power to determine MPs’ pay and pensions and to create the role of the Compliance Officer, who plays an important part in the regulatory aspect of IPSA’s work.
  2. We have also published the assurance reports looking at the General Election and Connected Parties. You can find copies of these reports via this link.
  3. Responses to the consultation can be emailed to schemeconsultation@theipsa.org.uk
  4. For more information, please contact IPSA's Press Office.
  5. Follow us on Twitter: @ipsauk