Accommodation arrangements of Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs

Request

I am going to make a Freedom of Information request to find out which MPs have second homes in London paid for by the taxpayer out of expenses. I should be grateful if you would advise the best way to make such a request. I will want to do it by email, but it may be necessary for me to make each request individually to avoid a fee. Specifically I want the information relating to Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs, since these are the ones who have brought in the bedroom tax legislation whilst - possibly - taking money from the taxpayer to pay for accommodation 'too big for their actual needs' as my local MP puts it.


Response

The MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses does not provide for a ‘second home’.  Under the provisions of the Scheme, non-London MPs may claim for accommodation expenditure to meet costs necessarily incurred on overnight accommodation which is required for the performance of their parliamentary functions.  This may be in relation to a property at one location, either in the London area or within their constituency (or within 20 miles of any point in the constituency).  Paragraph 4.8 of the Scheme details the costs which may be claimed under Accommodation Expenditure.

In responding to your request, we have assumed that by ‘bedroom tax’, you are referring to changes to Housing Benefit under the Welfare Reform Act which are due to come into force from April 2013, relating to the under-occupancy of properties rented from councils or housing associations.

The names of Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs who represent non-London constituencies and claim accommodation expenditure to meet costs necessarily incurred on overnight accommodation in support if their parliamentary functions are listed in Annex A

As detailed in the Scheme, this may include both non-London MPs who rent properties in London are entitled to claim for rental payments and associated expenditure, and non-London MPs who claim associated expenditure only.

Further, whilst the Scheme makes no specific requirement in relation to the number of bedrooms a rental property should include, the level of the rental accommodation budget is set based on our assessment of the cost of a one bedroom property.  The evidence that we require to support claims for rental accommodation does not include information relating to the size of a property.  It may or may not be that the hard copy lease includes details of the number of bedrooms.

For your reference, we have provided an answer to a previous FOI request (reference FOI2013-A158), which requested the number of MPs claiming rent for properties with more than one bedroom. 

As you will see from this response, we conducted a test which showed that to provide the information requested, we would have exceeded the statutory cost limit stipulated in the FOIA.

Ref:
FOI2013-A187
Disclosure:
March 28, 2013
Categories:
UNDEROCCUPANCY PENALTY
Exemptions Applied:
None