The Sunday Mirror ran a story this weekend about MPs who are reimbursed for their energy bills. Many of the local papers have picked this up and are running stories about who is reimbursed for what.
It is vitally important that we recognise how much energy bills are affecting people’s standard of living. It is why the Labour Party has been campaigning so hard on an energy price freeze. I know how high those prices are because I pay those same costs for my home in Dronfield where I pay full rent, full council tax, energy, water and all other bills.
As you are aware, a Member of Parliament works in Westminster from Monday to Thursday and in the constituency at the weekend and during recess. For those of us who cannot commute between the two places, we have to have a place to stay.
Different MPs do this differently. Some stay in hotels (where all the costs are rolled into a daily rate), some stay in serviced accommodation (where all the bills are included in the rent), and some (like me) rent a place and pay the bills on top. We are reimbursed for these costs.
All of these costs are published on the IPSA website every quarter. IPSA is the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority and they decide what costs are legitimate to reimburse. You can find all the information broken down to each individual payment that any MP receives by visiting their website www.parliamentarystandards.org.uk and most MPs will have direct links to the claims they make on their own websites.
It is very important that the people we represent can see what claims we make and since 2009, we have had an independent and completely transparent system that allows everyone to do so.
At the same time, many of us would not be able to become Members of Parliament unless we were supported in our living costs while we were in London. Such a system would mean that only people with independent wealth would be able to afford to put their names forward to become MPs. That would really damage our democracy.