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Details of MPs who have registered dependants with IPSA and internal communications regarding the April 2017 rule change
CAS-120084
Disclosure Date:14 Aug 2018
Categories: MPs' ACCOMMODATION IPSA - BOARD
Exemptions Applied: Section 40
Request
  1. Please release the names of MPs who have registered dependants with Ipsa for accommodation purposes and the number of dependants per MP.
  2. Please release information (emails, minutes of meetings etc) relating to the reason behind the rule change for qualifying for an uplift in accommodation to cover dependants from 'routinely resident' to the current wording.
Response

IPSA holds the information that you have requested.

Names of MPs who have registered dependants

The information that we publish at the end of each financial year includes the accommodation budget each MP has and the reason for that budget (eg. ‘Standard budget for renting a property in the London area, plus an uplift to cover the cost of one dependant’). You will need to download the 'total spend' data. Once downloaded, the information you are looking for can be found at column U.

Information relating to the 2017-18 financial year will be published in autumn 2018. Section 22(1) of the FOIA states that information intended for future publication is exempt from release. 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 a complete annual list rather than details on an ad hoc basis, as in this way a clear and complete set of information is published, avoiding any potential confusion. It is for this reason that the application of the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosure at this stage.

Internal communications relating to the April 2017 rule change

During 2016, we conducted a comprehensive review of the Scheme of MPs' Business Costs and Expenses ('the Scheme'). This was the first consultation on the Scheme since the May 2015 General Election, and addressed 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.

One of the issues reviewed was the support that IPSA provides to MPs' families, including their spouses, partners and dependants.

At the time of the review, MPs could register dependants with IPSA and then claim a rental accommodation budget uplift of £2,425 per year per dependant. This increased their budget so that they could find larger accommodation to enable family members to stay with the MP. The dependants had to be ‘routinely’ resident with the MP, but the Scheme did not specify exactly how often they must stay to be eligible.

In line with our desire to simplify the Scheme, we removed the requirement that MPs’ dependants must ‘routinely’ reside with them. This word was not defined, and it was difficult for us to regulate. Since the change, which came into effect in April 2017, it has been sufficient for an MP to register dependants for whom they need to provide accommodation to qualify for the uplift. Paragraphs 140 to 157 of our consultation report for the 2016 review address the issue of financial support to families.

We have conducted a search of our systems and located two emails, one letter and three Board papers and one internal note which made reference to the rule change. Links to these files can be found below. We have extracted the sections relevant to your request and have removed the name of junior staff members and third parties in accordance with section 40(2) 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. 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.

File name Type Date
COMPREHENSIVE REVIEW OF THE SCHEME: EMERGING FINDINGS FROM THE CONSULTATION Board paper 22 September 2016
Paper 2: Employment of connected parties and financial support for MPs’ families Board paper 30 November 2016
Annex 3: Dependant uplift to rental accommodation budget Board paper 1 January 2017
GUIDE TO CHANGES TO THE SCHEME Internal note 31 January 2017
RE: Q&As Email 28 February 2017
Routinely resident Email 13 October 2017
Equality impact assessment of IPSA’s rules Letter 15 December 2017