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Disability Assistance claims by political party
CAS-50870
Disclosure Date:17 Jun 2016
Categories: DISABILITY ASSISTANCE
Exemptions Applied: Section 40
Request

The amount of expenses claimed by political party which submitted expense requests, in relation to claims made for 'disability' issues, during the periods of 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2014-2015, together with any information for the current financial period 2015-2016 that may be available.

Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

Under the MPs' Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses ('the Scheme'), Disability Assistance may be claimed by any MP for necessary additional expenditure incurred in the performance of an MP's parliamentary functions which is reasonably attributable to a disability of an MP, a staff member, a job applicant or constituents visiting the office or surgery. This usually takes the form of necessary adjustments to an MP's office which are required as a result of an MP (or other individuals mentioned above) having a disability (e.g. a ramp being installed).

The Disability Assistance available under the Scheme covers specific costs incurred by the MP or their staff in the exercise of their parliamentary functions (i.e. to ensure they are able to do their jobs). It does not cover personal costs incurred by the MP in their private life outside of Parliament and is not comparable to Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payments (PIPs).

The full rules regarding Disability Assistance (and what it can cover) can be found at Chapter Ten of the Scheme, a copy of which can be found at the following address: http://parliamentarystandards.org.uk/IPSAMPs/Scheme.

Due to the sensitive nature of the topic, we do not publish individual claims relating to disability, but we do publish an annual aggregate which can be found at the following address: http://www.parliamentary-standards.org.uk/AnnualisedData.aspx.

In reviewing the information that we hold in relation to your request, we believe that it would be possible for individuals to still be identified from the information, making the data ‘personal’ as defined by the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). We must consider that responses made under the FOIA are to the ‘wider world’ and not just the individual making the request. Although you may not, it is possible that other individuals with knowledge of specific MPs would be able to use the information to link it with those MPs.

As such, we have withheld such information in accordance with section 40 of the FOIA. For reference, section 40(2) provides that personal information about third parties is exempt information if disclosure would breach the fair processing principle (Principle 1) of the DPA, where it would be unfair to those persons or is confidential. This is especially true for ‘sensitive personal data’, such as that relating to an individual’s disability. You can find out more information about personal data and FOI via guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) on their website: http://ico.org.uk.