Details of MPs receiving contingency funds and for what purpose

Request

Which MPs have received contingency funds in each of the last 5 financial years including this current year; how much; and for what purposes.


Response

Background

Paragraphs 10.10 and 10.11 (and relevant guidance) of the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (“the Scheme”) set out the basis for applying for contingency funding:

“10.10. Where an MP necessarily incurs expenditure or liability for expenditure related to the performance of the MP's parliamentary functions which is not covered by any of the budgets set out in this Scheme or, if it is covered by one or more of those budgets, it exceeds any financial limit that may apply, the MP may apply to IPSA to be reimbursed on an exceptional basis in respect of that expenditure.”

“10.11. IPSA may decide to accept or reject an application under paragraph 10.10 at its sole discretion, and in considering its decision shall take into account the following factors:

  1. whether there are exceptional circumstances warranting additional support;

  2. whether the MP could reasonably have been expected to take any action to avoid the circumstances which gave rise to the expenditure or liability; and

  3. whether the MP's performance of parliamentary functions will be significantly impaired by a refusal of the claim.”

An MP can submit an application for contingency funding to the IPSA Contingency Panel, which meets regularly to consider applications and will advise the applicant of their decision accordingly. If necessary, the MP’s relevant budget will be uplifted by the approved amount or approval will be given to the MP to claim a cost not covered by any of the budgets in the Scheme.

Our response

In your email of 9 January 2013, in which you clarified your request, you confirmed that you were not requesting information about the following:

“payments to cover periods of maternity, paternity or adoption leave and to cover staff members who are on periods of long-term sick leave.  Payments of this type are covered by a central fund, but whilst the payments are to cover unforeseen eventualities, these payments are routine and do not require the approval of the Contingency Panel”.

You confirmed that you were not requesting the following information, but required assistance accessing the published information on our website:

“payments made to an MP where expenditure is necessarily incurred for the performance of their Parliamentary function but is not covered by the any of the budgets provisioned in the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’).   In such cases, applications are made to the IPSA Contingency Panel and, if approved, the claim(s) may be submitted via the online expenses system under the contingency claim form.”

You may view the published information by visiting our publication website

In your email, you also confirmed that you were requesting information about funding requests “made where expenditure, necessarily incurred and covered by one of the budgets in the Scheme, would exceed the financial limit of the relevant budget...  and that the format of the information requested will be provided as “a list of MPs whose applications have been approved, the level of the budget uplift approved and the budget type.””

Please find attached at Annex A a list of MPs whose applications have been approved by the IPSA Contingency Panel under the circumstances outlined above, the level of the budget uplift approved and the budget type. This information is presented as the aggregate total approved for each MP under each budget within each financial year. The relevant period is from May 2010 (when IPSA began operations) until the date of your FOI request, 13 December 2012.

We should be clear that the information provided at Annex A only shows those MPs whose applications for an uplift in their budget were approved.  This does not necessarily mean that any claims and payments were made against any uplifted budget. An MP’s circumstances may have changed or the costs incurred may have been lower than anticipated and so the MP may have in fact ended up spending less than their original budget. In our published annual data, we already give the total amounts paid by IPSA against each budget for each MP. A comparison between the published annual data and the budget limits shown in Annex B may give an indication of amounts paid against uplifted budgets.

The annual data can be found via this link to our publication website and can be downloaded for all MPs by selecting the relevant financial year and selecting the option to ‘download all MPs’ annual expenditure data’. It should be kept in mind that total annual expenditure may also in some cases appear higher due to payments to cover periods of maternity, paternity or adoption leave and to cover staff members who are on periods of long-term sick leave or due to other operational reasons.  

Further information on budgets

The Scheme rules are intended to ensure that MPs are reimbursed for costs necessarily incurred in the performance of their parliamentary functions. The relevant rules and budget levels have been adapted and adjusted over the last three years through a process of regular review and consultation to ensure they are fair and workable in practice. Please refer to Annex B below for budget limits for each financial year, which should provide some helpful context to the Contingency Fund. For example, some MPs who have needed Staffing Expenditure budget uplifts in each financial year may have received more funding in the earlier years when the budget limits were lower than they are currently. As the budget has increased, the amount of additional funding they require may have decreased. Similarly, new MPs setting up their constituency office may now usually claim related costs from the Start-Up Expenditure budget rather than the Contingency Fund.

Furthermore, when the Scheme was first introduced, there were two budgets for MPs to run and equip their constituency offices - the General Administrative Expenditure (GAE) budget, and the Constituency Office Rental Expenditure (CORE) budget. In April 2011, following the first Annual Review of the Scheme, IPSA merged the two budgets into the Office Costs Expenditure budget (OCE).

For further definitions of relevant terms and explanations of the rules, please refer to the Scheme.

Annex A

Please click here to download Annex A.

Annex B - Annual budgets for each financial year 2010-2013

Relevant budget1London Area (2010/2011 budget (£)[1])Non-London (2010/2011 budget (£)[1])AreaLondon Area (2011/2012 budget (£))Non-London Area (2011/2012 budget (£))London Area (2012/2013 budget (£))Non-London Area (2012/2013 budget (£))
Constituency Office Rental Expenditure (CORE)12,761 (11,698 pro-rated for 11 months)10,663 (9,774 pro-rated for 11 months)----
General Administrative Expenditure (GAE)10,394 (9,528 pro-rated for 11 months)-----
Office Costs Expenditure (OCE)--24,00021,50024,75022,200
Start-Up Expenditure[2]--6,000-6,000-
Staffing Expenditure109,548 (100,419 pro-rated for 11 months)-115,000-144,000137,200
Accommodation Expenditure (for MPs claiming for rental payments)[3]19,9009,472-15,050 depending on constituency19,9009,472-15,050 depending on constituency20,00010,050-15,150 depending on constituency
Accommodation Expenditure (for MPs claiming mortgage interest or associated expenditure only)17,500-17,500-17,500-

Please refer to the Scheme for further definitions and explanations of the rules and budgets

[1] Because IPSA only took over operations in May 2010, the actual amounts available to MPs in 2010/11 were pro-rated, being calculated at 11/12 of the total.

[2] The Start-Up Expenditure budget (paragraphs 8.1-8.4 of the Scheme) is designed to meet the costs of setting up one or more constituency offices as a new MP. Prior to its introduction in the Third Edition of the Scheme, MPs could request to meet such set up costs from the Contingency Fund. There is also a Winding-Up Expenditure budget; however, the costs of staffing redundancy payments, and some other costs, will be met from the Contingency Fund.

[3] As set out in paragraphs 4.20 and 4.21 of the Scheme (and relevant guidance), “an MP who is eligible to claim Accommodation Expenditure for rental costs may have his or her budget limit increased by up to £2,425 in any financial year for any additional expenditure that may be required, for each person for whom that MP has caring responsibilities (known hereafter as the “dependant”), provided that he or she can certify that the dependant routinely resides at the rented accommodation.”

[4] This lower annual figure reflects that mortgage interest subsidies ended on 31 August 2012.

Ref:
FOI2012-A129
Disclosure:
February 6, 2013
Categories:
CONTINGENCY FUNDING
Exemptions Applied:
None