‘I would like to request information (by email if possible) regarding how many of the bedrooms in the second homes of MPs, funded by the state, are empty and if they are subject to the same 'bedroom tax' that other state funded properties are? I.e. if one adult lives in a five bedroom home, there are obviously 4 empty bedrooms and therefore their housing/secondary home benefit should be reduced accordingly.’
The MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses does not provide for a ‘second home’. Under the provisions of the Scheme, non-London MPs may claim for accommodation expenditure to meet costs necessarily incurred on overnight accommodation which is required for the performance of their parliamentary functions. This may be in relation to a property at one location, either in the London area or within their constituency (or within 20 miles of any point in the constituency).
Whilst the Scheme makes no specific requirement in relation to the number of bedrooms a rental property should include, the level of the rental accommodation budget is set based on our assessment of the cost of a one bedroom property. Paragraph 4.8 of the Scheme gives more information on what may be claimed under Accommodation Expenditure.
We require MPs to submit supporting evidence to accompany claims for rental accommodation in the form of the original rental agreement. As mentioned, the Scheme makes no specific requirement on the number of bedrooms a property should include and, therefore, we do not require the supporting evidence to contain information on bedrooms. It is possible that some rental agreements may include information relating to the number of bedrooms at a rental property, but this is by no means certain.
We undertook a test to estimate the amount of time it would take to determine whether this information is held within rental agreements and estimate that to do so would take 40.6 hours of staff time, which takes us over the appropriate cost limit of £450 (part 1 of Schedule 1 of the FOIA) and are therefore not obliged under the FOIA to comply with your request. We can, however, confirm that the results of the test carried out, in which we reviewed 10 per cent of active rental agreements, did not reveal any information related to the number of bedrooms.