There has been a considerable amount of attention paid recently to the allowances that are claimed by Members of Parliament.
Every MP is responsible for the claims that they make, and that is why I have put this page together to explain exactly what I spend my allowances on. I am confident that I have only claimed what is necessary for me to fulfil my responsibilities as a local MP. My expenditure puts me well towards the lowest end of the spectrum!
Since I was first elected in 1994, I have never claimed for a second home. The vast majority of my expenditure relates to the running of my office at the House of Commons – for example in employing staff, office expenditure (AOE), House of Commons stationery and postage costs, and in office computer equipment.
*data in this report from They Work For You; 2008/09 and 2009/10 not yet fully available
AOE (Formerly IEP): 2009-present (664 KB)
IEP: 2008-09 (10.3 MB); 2007-08 (4.28MB); 2006-07 (5.40MB); 2005-06 (6.17MB); 2004-05(1.62MB)
CA: 2009-10 (558KB); 2008-09 (2.47MB); 2007-08 (0.26MB)
All of the details on this page are correct to the best of my knowledge. On 18 May 2009 I uploaded copies of all of my receipts (April 2004-March 2008) - one month in advance of their publication by the House of Commons - so that you can check through them for yourself. I have since uploaded more receipts covering the period April 2008 - present, again ahead of the official publication date. If you spot any mistakes, please get in touch!
I am currently working through the most recent data from the House of Commons and will be uploading it shortly.
Total Breakdown of Costs
*some claims for staff travel submitted through IEP
Additional Costs Allowance (ACA)
As MPs are required to work both in Westminster and in their constituencies, MPs have long been able to claim for the cost of running their second home. Most of the stories in the newspapers have been about claims under this allowance – including for the costs of furnishing these second homes.
As an Outer London MP I have been entitled to claim for a second home closer to Westminster. However, I have never had a second home and so do not claim under this allowance. Many of my constituents commute into central London, and I have felt that I should do likewise.
As I represent a London constituency and do not claim under the ACA, I receive the London Supplement. This is at a standard rate for all MPs who receive it.
Administrative and Office Expenditure (AOE)
The AOE, formerly called the Incidental Expenses Provision, is in place to enable MPs to claim for the costs of running their offices. This can include, for example, rent costs, payment for utilities at constituency offices, repairs, and the purchase of office equipment. It also includes the purchase of office resources, such as paper, printer toner and other stationery. As my only office is at the House of Commons, I do not claim for a permanent constituency office. My AOE/IEP claims over recent years are as follows:
* prior to introduction of Communications Allowance (see below)
To give you an idea of what this is spent on, I have looked through my receipts from 2007/08, when my total claim under the IEP was £5,315. To the best of my knowledge, I spent £2,480.50 of this on renting rooms, mostly for my regular constituency surgeries. As I do not have an office outside the House of Commons, I hold surgeries at different venues around the constituency – on average 5 per month. I paid £1,903 for my use of facilities at East Ham Town Hall and £577.50 for the use of rooms at the Froud Centre in Manor Park.
I calculate that I paid £319.60 for the cost of printing my headed paper and compliments slips. I also spent £500 for ongoing support of my casework management system, which enables me to keep track of all of my letters as well as the enquiries that come into my office.
Taking into account all of these expenses, £2,014.90 remains. The vast majority of this will have been spent on office resources, such as paper, printer toner, and stationery for use by my staff. My staff members were also reimbursed for a number of their trips from Westminster to the constituency – though many of them they’ve paid for at their own expense!
Under the AOE I make some claims for the purchase of office equipment. In previous years, this has included computer equipment and peripherals, such as a camera for me to take photos of my constituency visits. My staff occupy a poorly-ventilated office at the House of Commons which can become very hot during the summer months. In 2008/09 I purchased a modest air conditioner from Argos for £230.94, which they use to keep the temperature at a reasonable level for working. In 2006/07, I purchased a laptop for use at my surgeries and at home which cost £1,055.95. During the year 2007/08, examples of equipment include telephone headsets which enable my staff to deal with telephone enquiries from constituents more efficiently.
2009-present (664 KB)
2008-09 (10.3 MB)
Communications Allowance (CA)
One of the reasons why my IEP expenditure fell in 2007/8 is that Parliament introduced the Communications Allowance. The CA is designed to enable me to communicate with my constituents, for example through newsletters and websites.
Every year I send out a newsletter to every home in the constituency, updating constituents on my work as their local MP and providing them with information about how to contact me. In 2007/8, this cost £1,647 to print and £2,643.75 to distribute (total: £4,290.75). In 2008/9, the cost was £1,941.13 to print and £2,587.50 to distribute (total: £4,528.63).
During 2007/8 I also claimed for one instalment towards the development of a new website from the CA. (I also paid a previous instalment in 2006/7 from the IEP.) However, this project was unsuccessful and so I terminated it. Since then, I have paid for the cost of my website at my own personal expense.
Other claims under the Communications Allowance have included the printing of posters with my contact details, which are now on display around East Ham, and the printing of my wallet cards which also provide my contact details. I have also claimed for paper, envelopes and postage costs to invite constituents in Beckton to a coffee morning to discuss anti-social behaviour, and to invite new electors to an educational event at Parliament.
2008-09 (2.47 MB)
I employ four members of staff in my office at the House of Commons. I do not employ any family members, and never have done. My staff are the people who you will probably speak to when you telephone my office or if you come to one of my surgeries. Throughout the week they help me to process the large number of enquiries that come into my office, making calls and drafting letters on behalf of my constituents. They also research topics for me and manage my diary. Many of those who contact my office tell me what a great job they do, and I believe in paying them properly for their work.
The figures quoted below comprise of the total salaries for my staff, as well as the associated Employer’s National Insurance Contributions.
Centrally Purchased Stationery includes the cost of my official House of Commons stationery (the actual printing of the letterhead is paid for separately), including my House of Commons envelopes. The next row provides the postage costs associated with my pre-paid House of Commons envelopes. This stationery is used to correspond with constituents and to take up matters on their behalf.
I am entitled to claim for my office a limited amount of centrally-provided computer equipment. At present, this consists of four desktop computers – one for each of my staff members – plus a laptop for surgeries, one printer and one fax/scanner/copier/printer. These are provided by the House of Commons, and the cost is spread out over four years.
The Other Costs above relates to the cost of paying for cover staff when one of my permanent staff members was signed off work on health grounds. I pay for my transport costs – including travel required for me to make my many constituency visits – at my own personal expense.