A guide to MPs’ staffing & business costs

Our MPs are elected to represent their constituents’ interests and concerns at a national level. They receive funding to allow them to conduct their work. 

To do that effectively they run a local office and employ constituency and parliamentary staff.  

MPs staff are crucial to delivering democracy.

We allocate specific budgets to MPs to pay for these roles and activities. They account for up to 80% of MPs’ business costs. 

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We pay the cost necessary for MPs to perform their parliamentary duties in their constituency or Westminster.

What MPs can and can't claim for is set out in the Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs and Expenses

Is there a minimum amount an MP can claim?

There is no minimum amount.

Generally, small claims under £1.00 will include payments to direct suppliers for small items that were paid as part of a larger order (stationery), or lines for booking and transaction fees (travel).

Is there a maximum amount an MP can claim?

There is no maximum amount an MP can claim.

MPs must have regard to value for money when making claims. MPs have allowed budgets for each financial year and are legally responsible for all money claimed and for managing their budgets and their staff.

All budgets for each financial year since 2015-16 can be found in Annex A to the Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs and Expenses for that financial year.

You can find out more about current and previous years budgets by visiting the Scheme in our publications page.

We publish all parliamentary business costs and individual expense claims made by MPs.

For security reasons, this doesn't include costs that relate to security and disability assistance, nor the detail of some travel claims

The rules around the publication of MPs’ staffing and business costs, and what information is redacted by IPSA can be found in our Publication Policy.

What other information do we publish about MPs?

Besides regular staff and office costs and claims for expenses, we also publish the following information about MPs’ parliamentary costs:

  • annual spend against each budget for closed financial years

  • annual payroll costs for MPs and their parliamentary staff

  • information about connected parties employed by MPs

  • outstanding loans with IPSA for deposits on rental properties

  • loss-of-office payments

  • debt written-off by IPSA

  • security and disability-assistance costs (aggregated totals for all MPs per financial year)

Where can I view my MP’s costs?

You can find all information relating to individual claims, annual budget data, historical data, as well as MP-specific information by visiting our MPs’ staffing & business costs page.

We are the only official source of public information on MPs’ staffing and business costs.

Under the Open Government Licence for public sector information, other websites and individuals may re-use expense data from this website.

We publish details of MPs’ staffing and business costs every two months. Our publication schedule can be found in the table below.

The bi-monthly publication includes claims processed throughout a two-month period, which is usually four to five months in arrears from the date of publication.

How far back can I search?

We provide details of all MP claims from the 2010-2011 financial year onwards.

Our publication schedule

Publication dateCovers claims processed during
Third Thursday of JanuaryAugust and September
Second Thursday of MarchOctober and November
Second Thursday of MayDecember and January
Second Thursday of JulyFebruary and March
Second Thursday of SeptemberApril and May
Third thursday of NovemberJune and July

Each entry in the published data has one of three possible statuses:

  • paid

  • repaid

  • not paid

Costs that are published as “paid” were submitted by MPs and approved as parliamentary expenses by us.

Costs that are published as “not paid” were submitted by MPs, but deemed to be outside the Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses.

Costs with a “repaid” status refer to some originally paid costs that were later repaid by the MP.

MPs repay funds to us if they have overspent on a budget, if a previously paid claim was found not to be eligible, or if they wish to repay for an eligible claim.

What do transaction dates refer to?

For most reimbursement claims, the published date refers to the day when the cost was incurred by the MP who submitted the claim.

For travel claims specifically, dates for travel costs that were claimed as reimbursements (claim numbers that start in “6”) may refer to the date of travel, or to the date when the cost was incurred, as entered by the MP.

Dates for travel claims that were submitted via certain suppliers, which are published as “Trainline” and “Chambers” (claim numbers that start in “4”), do not refer to the travel dates, but to the dates when we processed the payments.

Dates for periodic payments we made to suppliers (such as rent payments or other claim numbers that start in “9“) are the IPSA internal processing dates.

What are entries with a negative amount?

An entry with a negative amount could refer to:

  • a refund made to us by a third party – such as a travel or stationery direct supplier

  • a merchant refunding a charge to an MP’s IPSA payment card

  • a refund from an MP to us for some regular rental payments – such as repayment for subletting an office

Why do some MPs have staffing costs, while others don't?

MPs have the option to staff their constituency office in two different ways:

1. Staff hired on a short-term basis or for specific projects, claimed as “bought-in services” in either the Staffing or Office Costs budget.

These staffing costs are published as individual claims regularly throughout the year in the bi-monthly publication of MPs’ expenses.

2. Staff hired on a permanent or long-term basis paid through payroll under the Staffing budget.

These regular costs are only published after the financial year was closed, as an aggregate payroll sum under the MP’s name.

Can I view all claims made by all MPs during a financial year?

The detailed data for all financial years dating back to 2010-2011 can be downloaded in Excel from our Annual Publication page.

How much has my MP spent against each of their available budgets?

To view by how much an MP has underspent or overspent against each of their available budgets in the financial year, you can download the Total Spend spreadsheet in Excel format for that financial year. The latest annual data is available on our Annual Publication page.

Why is my MP’s total spend for the financial year under a specific budget different from the sum of their published individual claims under the same budget?

There may be discrepancies between the total spend by an MP against their budget, as published in the “Total Spend” data for the financial year, and the total amount spent under the same budget, as calculated from the published individual claims for the MP.

These discrepancies occur for the following reasons:

  1. While the total spend against each budget for each MP represents how much they spent under that budget in each financial year, not all individual claims that make up that total can be published. For example, some security or disability-assistance costs under the Office budget, Accommodation budget, or under “one-off costs”, will be counted in the published total spend, but will not be released on the individual claims data.

  2. Some accruals and prepayments made around the end of a financial year may also have been published as individual entries in the former or previous financial year.

We don't amend the description field of claims after submission by the MP.

For auditing purposes, we publish the information as it appears in our system. We only redact personal information or any information that may be a security concern.

Can the transaction date be amended?

We are unable to change transaction dates on the publication data.  These dates cannot be changed once submitted by the MP.

Often in regards to travel claims, the transaction date can be either the date of travel or the date the claim was submitted to us.

Every year we process between 150,000 and 180,000 claims.

We have a three-tiered, evidence-based approach to checking and paying claims.

  • pre-payment validation

  • post-payment validation

  • thematic reviews

This helps us understand risk and maintain efficiency, so we can reimburse MPs and suppliers quickly.

By understanding the “lifetime” of a claim we can examine risk and identify any unusual claiming patterns or things which might need further examination.

This means we know can be sure taxpayers’ money is spent appropriately in support of MPs’ parliamentary work.

Pre-payment validation

We check individual claims before they are paid by taking a random sample of selected claims along with and other types of claim that are priority risks.

All other claims are paid upon receipt of evidence and checked in the validation process.

Post-payment validation

This takes place after payment. Every three months (or more frequently if needed) we check MPs’ claims. This helps us to spot any claims that were not examined in the pre-payment validation process, and which should not have been paid. When this happens, MPs are asked to repay the money.

This helps IPSA to look at an MP’s claims in context and identify any unusual patterns or repeated errors that would not have been identified at the pre-payment validation stage.

Claim reviews

Although not strictly part of the three-tiered approach, we review claims on an ad hoc basis (normally at the request of the MP). This is crucial to ensure that decisions made during the first and second validation tiers are fair and consistent with the Scheme rules.

Where we have decided that a claim (or part of a claim) is ineligible in the first two stages, an MP can request an internal review.

The review is conducted by our assurance team. The team is independent of those responsible for the earlier validation processes.

If the review finds our decision not to pay a claim (or to recover money that has been paid) was due to an error or incorrect application of Scheme rules, the claim will be paid.

The review may also uphold our original decision. Where this happens, MPs can choose to appeal to our Compliance Officer.

Read our Assurance reports.

Thematic reviews

Our assurance team carries out thematic reviews as the third and final tier of our validation process. They look at total spending by all MPs in a specific category or range of categories.

The reviews identify any significant outliers or unusual patterns and are followed up. This could include contacting the MPs in question to make sure the rules were well understood and that the claims were compliant.

Evidence from previous reviews has confirmed a high degree of compliance among MPs. In a small number of cases, they have led to repayments. In rare cases claims have been referred to our Compliance Officer (where we believe there may have been intentional abuse of the rules).

We use the findings of the thematic reviews to help inform other areas of our work. Where operational processes have not been effective in implementing rules or supporting MPs to comply with them, we have adjusted them so similar situations don’t occur in the future. Likewise, where rules have not been fully understood by MPs, we have improved our communication of them and made amendments to the Scheme where appropriate.

When we decide on the topics for thematic reviews each year, we consider:

  • perceived risk of error in certain areas of spend

  • discussions with our operational teams

  • feedback from MPs and stakeholders

Thematic reviews can also be influenced by significant events such as general elections.

Read our Thematic reviews.

Staffing

MPs recruit and employ the staff who work directly for them, but we are responsible for paying their salary.

We regulate this cost in several ways.

MPs must recruit their staff using one of the standard job descriptions we have created. MPs must also employ new staff using one of our standard contracts. We set the salary bands for each job.

Who an MP can employ is also regulated, with clear rules about the employment of “connected parties” – such as the spouses, partners or children of MPs. Since 2017 MPs have not been able to employ new connected parties.

Property rentals

For us to pay for an MP’s office or residential accommodation, we need formal agreement between the property owner and the MP.

MPs must register the rental agreement with us, and we require a copy of a signed lease before any money is paid.

Elections

When elections occur, we send MPs extra guidance about what costs and expenses can be claimed.

If MPs’ staff want to take part in campaign activities, they must take annual leave or unpaid leave.

Your MP

Learn more about your MP's annual claims.

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