Please provide information for the financial year 2012/13 on:
- A) the number of Members of Parliament who claimed a subsidy/expenses for accommodation
- B) the number of Members of Parliament who claim for accommodation which might be considered to have more rooms than a person would be entitled to under the Local Housing Alliance size criteria
- C) the total cost of these expenses
IPSA holds some of the information that you request.
Under MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’), Members of Parliament do not receive a subsidy for accommodation. Rather, 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). Paragraph 4.8 of the Scheme gives more information on what may be claimed under Accommodation Expenditure.
Taking your requests in turn:
- the number of Members of Parliament who claimed a subsidy/expenses for accommodation
We publish details of MPs’ claims for Accommodation Expenditure on our website, which will allow you to view the MPs that have made claims for Accommodation Expenditure. You may view the published information by visiting our publication website.
Details of claims for expenses are published in a two month cycle, three months in arrears. The next publication date for expense claims is 11 July 2013, which will cover claims made in February and March 2013. The most recent claims we have published are those made up to the end of January 2013, meaning the full data for the 2012/13 financial year is not yet currently available.
You can, however, view details of all claims made in the 2012/13 financial year up to the end of January on our website. The following instructions may assist you in locating and filtering the information:
- Select ‘Search Function’ via the menu bar at the top of the page
- Under ‘Select MP(S), Constituencies, Postcode or Region’ tick the check box to select all MPs
- Under ‘Select a year and, optionally, month(s)’ select the financial year you would like to view
- Under ‘Select category(s) of Business Cost or Expense’ choose ‘Accommodation’ and then click ‘Find’.
- On the following page, you can then export the results by clicking the link in the top right-hand corner. This will open up all the data in an Excel format, allowing you to view the number of MPs who have made claims for accommodation expenditure.
The FOIA states that information that is easily accessible by other means is not subject to release. Therefore, as the information you have requested is already available on our website it is exempt from disclosure under section 21 of the FOIA (information accessible to applicant by other means).
Further, the FOIA states that information intended for future release is not subject to release. As the information you have requested relating to the last two months of the 2012/13 financial year will be published in July 2013, it is exempt from disclosure under Section 22(1) of the FOIA (Information intended for future publication).
In relation to our application of the exemption at section 22(1) of the FOIA, we have considered whether the public interest in releasing the information outweighs the application of the exemption. It is our opinion that the public interest is best served by publishing the information at set dates, rather than on an ad hoc basis, as this way a clear and complete set of information is published, which should also avoid causing confusion. It is for these stated reasons that the application of the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
- the number of Members of Parliament who claim for accommodation which might be considered to have more rooms than a person would be entitled to under the Local Housing Alliance size criteria
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.
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.
- the total cost of these expenses
The total cost can be identified by following the steps provided in response to the first part of your request.