Coronavirus - additional office costs

Request

Can you furnish me with the numbers of MPs who took the £10000 you awarded them for working at home.


Response

I can confirm that we hold information relevant to your request.

I would like to begin by explaining that MPs were not awarded £10,000 to spend how they liked, rather that this additional amount of money was made available for them to claim for any additional expenses they may incur by having to implement alternative ways of working due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most MPs’ staff moved at very short notice from being based in Westminster (or in a constituency office) to working from home. Many staff will not have been set up for home working. This additional funding is to help them make that transition as smoothly as possible, while dealing with a huge increase in workload as a result of coronavirus issues.

Can you furnish me with the numbers of MPs who took the £10000 you awarded them for working at home.

The additional £10,000 which has been made available in the MPs’ budget has been split between the previous and current financial years. Information about those who have claimed since April 2020 may not be held, as MPs can still make claims.  

Information about claims made in respect of home working will, therefore, be published between July 2020 and November 2021

Section 22(1) of the FOIA states that information intended for future publication is exempt from release under section 22 of the Freedom of Information Act. This exemption applies because this information is intended for future publication by IPSA as part of our routine publication schedule.

Section 22 is a qualified exemption and requires us to consider the public interest. MPs have a certain amount of time in which to submit their claims. This period has been extended due to the current situation. Once claims have been submitted, there is then a period of validation and reconciliation, before the information is ready for publication. Information about claims made between December 2019 and March 2020 will be published in July 2020, with remaining information and information on budgets published in November 2020.

In the light of the validation and reconciliation procedure and because IPSA already has schedule of routinely publishing this information, it is our opinion that the public interest is best served by publishing a full list rather than on an ad hoc basis, as in this way a clear and complete set of information is published, avoiding any potential confusion. I, therefore, find that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure at this time.

How to request an internal review of this response

If you are dissatisfied with the service you have received or if you wish to appeal the response, please send an email quoting the reference number of your request and the reason for your appeal, within two months of receipt.

If you remain unhappy with the outcome of your appeal you can contact the Information Commissioner’s Office, the details of which can be found at ico.org.uk  In general, the ICO will only review cases when an organisation has completed its internal review.

Ref:
CAS-169910
Disclosure:
May 18, 2020
Categories:
MPs' OFFICE COSTS
Exemptions Applied:
Section 22