MPs hotel and rental accommodation costs

Request

  • [I would like to request] information about payments for MPs’ accommodation where they appear to have made claims for hotels in the London area at the same time as claims for rented accommodation. [Including] any and all notes, documentation and correspondence related to the below duplicate claims.


Response

IPSA holds the information that you request.

Under the Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’), an accommodation budget is provided to MPs to meet the costs necessarily incurred as a result of having to work permanently from two locations. Only MPs from constituencies outside the London Area are eligible to receive an accommodation budget.

In accordance with the Scheme, non-London MPs may claim for accommodation costs in relation to one of the following at a time:

  • hotel accommodation; or

  • rental payments and associated costs for a rented property; or

  • associated costs for a property they own

In addition, non-London MPs may claim for accommodation costs only in relation to one location at a time:

  • in the London Area; or

  • within the MP’s constituency (which is also defined as within 20 miles of any point on the constituency boundary)

For MPs who rent in the London Area, the annual accommodation budget is £22,920. For MPs who rent outside the London Area, the budget is £16,010. This budget is intended to cover the costs of rental payments and associated costs. For MPs who claim associated costs only for a property they own, the annual budget is £5,270. Alternatively, MPs may choose hotel accommodation, in which case there is no cap on the budget, but there is a nightly cost limit of £175 in the London Area and £150 elsewhere in the UK.

To provide you with all of the requested material would involve work over the cost limit of £450 or 18 staff hours, and therefore we have not complied with the full request, in accordance with s.12 FOIA (Exemption where cost of compliance exceeds appropriate limit). Apart from the receipts and invoices submitted by MPs when they make claims, we hold a large volume of correspondence, internal notes and documentation which would need to be located and extracted for each of the listed claims.

Given the volume and as well as the age of some of the information, we consider that to locate and extract all correspondence and notes, which are potentially located across multiple databases or systems would take us well over the appropriate cost/time limit.

We also consider that correspondence between IPSA and MPs regarding their accommodation is likely to be exempt from disclosure under s.40 FOIA (Personal Data). MPs correspond with us on a regular basis on matters relating to their pay, pensions, business costs and expenses, accommodation and the management of their staff. Similarly, MPs’ staff may correspond with us on behalf of their MP.

Such correspondence constitutes the personal data of the MPs and/or their staff members and as such, we are obliged to consider whether it would be fair and lawful to disclose the information, in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation. We recognise that there is a legitimate interest in ensuring transparency in matters relating to the spending of public funds, which we believe is met by the significant amount of information already published relating to MPs’ business costs, expenses, accommodation and staffing arrangements.

However, from the work we have been able to do within the cost limit, we have identified the following information in respect of the MPs and claims included in your request:

In respect of 19 MPs included in your request, we identified claims that had been misallocated and should have been claimed as hotel stays for staff members. These will be changed on our systems.

In three cases, we allowed a small overlap between hotel and rent claims because the MP was unable to move into the new accommodation on the first day of the lease.

In two cases, a month’s rent was paid in advance, so the date appearing on the claim does not correspond with when the MP moved into their new accommodation.

In one instance, the incorrect transaction date was entered in the claim and does not correspond with the date of the hotel stay.

In one case, a misunderstanding between the MP and IPSA led to overpayments of rent to the landlord. The overpaid amounts have been recovered.

In one case, IPSA had agreed with the MP to claim for both hotels and rental accommodation for a limited period. The MP continued to claim after the period ended, and these amounts are being recovered through a repayment plan. Where we identify claims that should not have been paid, the amounts will be recovered through IPSA’s normal processes. All repayments are published in accordance with our Publication Policy. This concludes our response to your request.

Ref:
CAS-141556
Disclosure:
June 7, 2019
Categories:
MPs' ACCOMMODATIONMPs' TRAVEL
Exemptions Applied: