Accommodation expenditure and number of bedrooms

Request

The number of conservative MPs claiming towards the cost of a second home or similar accommodation.

For each conservative MP claiming, how many bedrooms are available in the property.

If the bedroom tax applied, how many of these properties would be affected by them?


Response

IPSA holds some of the information that you request.  Taking your requests in turn:

  1. ‘The number of conservative MPs claiming towards the cost of a second home or similar accommodation.’

The MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’) 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.

We publish details of MPs’ claims for Accommodation Expenditure on our website, which will allow you to view the names of MPs that have made claims for Accommodation Expenditure.  You may view the published information by visiting our publication website

Details of claims for expenses are published in a two month cycle, three months in arrears. The next publication date for expense claims is Thursday 9 May 2013.  The most recent claims we have published are those made up to the end of November 2012. 

The FOIA states that information that is accessible by other means is not subject to release.  Therefore, as the information you have requested is already available on our website it is exempt from disclosure under section 21 of the FOIA (information accessible to applicant by other means).

  1. ‘For each conservative MP claiming, how many bedrooms are available in the property.’

  2. ‘If the bedroom tax applied, how many of these properties would be affected by them?’

Under the provisions of the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘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).  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.  Paragraph 4.8 of the Scheme gives more information on what may be claimed under Accommodation Expenditure.

We require MPs to submit supporting evidence to accompany claims for rental accommodation in the form of the original rental agreement.  As mentioned, the Scheme makes no specific requirement on the number of bedrooms a property should include and, therefore, we do not require the supporting evidence to contain information on bedrooms.  It is possible that some rental agreements may include information relating to the number of bedrooms at a rental property, but this is by no means certain. 

We undertook a test to estimate the amount of time it would take to determine whether this information is held within rental agreements and estimate that to do so would take 40.6 hours of staff time, which takes us over the appropriate cost limit of £450 (part 1 of Schedule 1 of the FOIA) and are therefore not obliged under the FOIA to comply with your request.  We can, however, confirm that the results of the test carried out, in which we reviewed 10 per cent of active rental agreements, did not reveal any information related to the number of bedrooms.

We are unable to comment on the application of the Welfare Reform Act.

Ref:
FOI2013-A207
Disclosure:
April 11, 2013
Categories:
UNDEROCCUPANCY PENALTY
Exemptions Applied:
Cost limit