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Amounts owed to IPSA by MPs
CAS-29776
Disclosure Date:28 Oct 2015
Categories: DEBT
Exemptions Applied: Cost limit
Request
  1. Some time ago you published this document: http://parliamentarystandards.org.uk/transparency/FOI/2014-15%20Freedom%20of%20information%20requests%20and%20responses/wF1415-159.pdf. Can you please update Annex A and B.
  2. How many MPs have owned more than £500 for over 12 months?
  3. What action did you take?
  4. Why write off the money under £500 and not just take the actions you mentioned above?
Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

An MP may owe an amount to IPSA for many different reasons, and the fact that an amount is owed does not, in itself, indicate any misuse of the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’).

Guidance contained within the current edition of the Scheme makes the following references to occasions where MPs may owe money to IPSA

  • MPs may incur business costs and expenses above the stated limits in the Scheme if they wish to do so. However any business costs and expenses above these limits will not be met from the public purse (page 16).
  • MPs who spend more than their allocated budget in any financial year will be considered to have been paid an amount that IPSA subsequently determines should not have been paid (page 14).
  • Amounts incurred above the budget limit in any particular year may not be rolled forward to subsequent years. Such amounts will need to be repaid to IPSA (page 17).

Further, in many instances, payments are made directly to third parties (such as landlords) on behalf of an MP. Although the MP will not have been the recipient of such payments, MPs are ultimately responsible for all amounts paid under the Scheme.

In the majority of cases, amounts requiring repayment will relate to an MP’s use of the IPSA payment card upon which MPs can pay for any business cost or expense allowable under the Scheme. For example, if an MP uses their IPSA payment card for a cost that is not eligible, then the amount will already have been paid for on the card and the MP will be required to repay to IPSA that cost. Similarly, if an MP uses their IPSA payment card for an eligible cost, but does not provide IPSA with the appropriate supporting evidence, then the sum will be listed as being required to be repaid – unless and until supporting evidence can be provided.

As part of our credit management programme, MPs are sent financial statements detailing their monthly position with IPSA.

Where an overpayment has been made to an MP, repayment will be required. The action that can be taken by IPSA to retrieve these amounts can be found at paragraphs 2.11 to 2.13 of the Scheme, a link to which is provided above.

The amounts owed to IPSA by MPs worth less than £500 were written off after repeated unsuccessful attempts to contact the MPs to retrieve the sums, and only where it was deemed an ineffective use of public money to pursue the amounts due to their comparatively low value (i.e. the cost of staff time spent establishing, maintaining and ceasing the payment recovery process would have exceeded the possible value of recovery). Details of any amounts written off are published on our website, and can be found via this link.

In relation to your specific requests, we have estimated that manually searching through our records in order to determine, locate, retrieve and extract all of the information that you have requested would exceed the appropriate cost limit of £450 (part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Freedom of Information Act). Consequently, we are not obliged to comply with this request, in accordance with section 12(1) of the FOIA.