Accommodation claims for properties with spare bedrooms

Request

I wish to request the following information:

  1. How many members of parliament claim expenses for accommodation with a spare bedroom allowing the same exceptions as applied to housing benefit in the Welfare Reform Act 2012?

  2. Which members of parliament make such claims and how much are they for?

  3. What measures does Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority take to prevent or recover the unjustified public expenditure on accommodation claims for MPs with spare bedrooms?

  4. If the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority allows MPs expense claims for accommodation which have spare bedrooms, how does it justify this given the harsh measures the government is pursuing in cutting housing benefits for many of the poorest people in the country?


Response

IPSA holds some of the information that you request. 

Under 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).  Paragraph 4.8 of the Scheme gives more information on what may be claimed under Accommodation Expenditure.

Whilst the Scheme makes no specific requirement in relation to the number of bedrooms a rental property should include, the rental accommodation budget limit is based on our assessment of the cost of a one bedroom property. 

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 we hold 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.

Ref:
F1314-165
Disclosure:
November 26, 2013
Categories:
UNDEROCCUPANCY PENALTY
Exemptions Applied:
Cost limit