Expenses claimed by MPs for dependents

Request

I would like to make a request under the Freedom of Information Act.  I would like to know which MPs have claimed extra allowances for dependents since 2010 and how much they claimed each year.


Response

IPSA holds some of the information that you request.

The MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’) does not provide for allowances.  MPs may claim for business costs and expenses necessarily incurred in carrying out their Parliamentary functions, in accordance with the rules set out in the Scheme.  MPs deemed to have caring responsibilities are entitled to claim for travel for dependents and, if claiming rental accommodation under the Scheme, may have their accommodation budget limit increased to meet any additional costs that may be associated with dependents routinely resident at the property.  In order to be eligible to claim travel costs for a dependent or to have their accommodation budget limit increased, MPs must register their dependent(s) with IPSA.

The Scheme defines those deemed to have caring responsibilities:

“4.24 For the purposes of this Scheme, MPs will be deemed to have caring responsibilities where they:

  1. have parental responsibility for a dependent child of up to the age of 16, or up to the age of 18 if in full-time education; or

  2. are the sole carer for a dependent child in full-time education, of up to the age of 21 years; or

  3. are the primary carer for a family member in receipt of one of the following benefits:

    1. Attendance Allowance;

    2. Disability Living Allowance[1] at the middle or highest rate for personal care; or

  • Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, or basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension.

Travel

In relation to travel claims for dependents, the Scheme[2] states that:

“9.22 Where MPs have caring responsibilities under paragraph 4.24, they may claim for journeys by the dependent in question. Such claims are limited to 30 single journeys between the MP's London Area residence and the constituency residence in each year for each dependent.”

Travel claims made in relation to dependents are published on 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, covering claims processed between December 2012 and January 2013.

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

Accommodation

With regard to accommodation expenses for dependents, the Scheme states that:

“4.22 An MP who is eligible to claim Accommodation Expenditure for rental costs may have their 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 “dependent”), provided that they can certify that the dependent routinely resides at the rented accommodation.”

As set out above, MPs who claim for rental accommodation, and who have individuals for whom they have caring responsibilities routinely-residing at the property, may have their budget increased by £2,425 for each dependent registered.  As mentioned earlier, the Scheme does not provide for an allowance.  The uplift for dependents simply increases the budget for accommodation, against which rental and associated costs may be claimed.  MPs are required to follow the standard procedure for submitting claims in accordance with the Scheme.

The information that we hold in relation to claims made for rental accommodation and associated costs does not separately identify additional costs directly attributable to dependents routinely-residing at the property.  In contrast to claims for travel for dependents, all of which relate to discrete journeys undertaken by dependents and are therefore easily distinguishable, any additional accommodation cost arising from one or more routinely-resident dependents may form part of general costs, such as rent, utility bills or council tax.

For example, an increase in accommodation costs associated with one or more routinely-resident dependents may take the form of an increase in an electricity bill.  Neither the supporting evidence required by IPSA or the MPs’ submissions via the online expenses system are required to identify the proportion of the electricity bill that has been incurred as the result of one or more dependents being routinely resident.  Further, it would not be possible to make the assumption that a high claim made by an MP with a registered dependent was directly attributable to the dependent(s) as there are many other factors that may have contributed to the increased cost of the bill.

[1] Following the introduction later this year of Personal Independence Payments for those 16 and over, MPs will be deemed to have caring responsibilities if they are the primary carer for a family member in receipt of the daily living component of personal independence payment.

[2] These rules have been in place in all editions of the Scheme. The references here are to the current, fifth, edition.

Ref:
FOI2013-A212
Disclosure:
April 21, 2013
Categories:
GENERAL EXPENSES ENQUIRY
Exemptions Applied:
Section 21