MPs demand larger expenses budget to ‘deal with Brexit’
MPs have asked for a boost to their staffing budgets in order to deal with Brexit.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) confirmed that MPs had lodged requests asking for their £150,900 per year staffing budgets be increased to help deal with increased workloads resulting from Brexit.
But critics warned that the expenses system remained “open to abuse” with 152 MPs still employing family members as staff, despite a crackdown on the practice last year.
New rules around the employment of family members or “connected parties” stopped short of forcing MPs to sack staff already working for them, meaning that taxpayers continue to shell out around £4m each year for MPs families employed as staff.
Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, said that there had to be a “guarantee of what the money is going to”.
“Brexit sounds like a rather convenient argument for increasing funding, Ipsa should be very cautious about raising budgets,” he said.
“It would be quite wrong to automatically agree and increase in the staff budget if there’s a danger that some of it just goes to improve the family income rather than as a service to the public.
“I have always been opposed to MPs being automatically able to employ their spouses. All MPs positions should be subject to open competition.”
Ipsa has yet to decide whether they will agree to the requested increase, saying that it would “take into account any relevant consequences of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union” when making its decision.
A former Conservative minister hit out at the “ridiculous” idea, telling The Telegraph: “We should not be increasing the budgets of MPs because of Brexit - that would be ridiculous.
“At a time when there are plenty of constraints on the public purse, this is just extraordinary. It shows a basic lack of political judgement and how out of touch MPs are with the British public, who just want Brexit done and delivered.”