EXCL Disabled Labour MP 'forced to fire assistant' after Commons watchdog pulls funding

Posted On: 
19th September 2019

A disabled Labour MP has claimed she was forced to sack a member of staff who helped her carry out her duties after the Commons spending watchdog withdrew funding for the post, PoliticsHome can reveal.

Marsha de Cordova became an MP in 2017
Nikki Powell

Marsha de Cordova said she had been reduced to tears as a result of the row with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

The shadow disabilities minister, who is visually impaired, said she had employed the assistant for nearly a year to help her prepare for debates and speeches, and arrange meetings.

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But IPSA informed her the funding they had provided for the staff member had been authorised "in error", forcing her to lay the assistant off.

In an interview with The House magazine, the Battersea MP said: “It caused me a great deal of upset, frustration, physically, mentally, emotionally. It was just really tiresome. 

“And, while all that is happening, I am still trying to be a damn good MP for my constituency in Battersea and so those additional challenges you really don’t need. And the outcome of that I had to let a member of staff go."

She added: “I’m currently in a rut doing my shadow ministerial role without any additional support.”

Ms de Cordova said IPSA, which is responsible for MPs’ expenses and salaries, had also initially refused her request to cover the costs for large font printing materials, but has since agreed to pay up.

The MP said: "I’m trying to be really flexible and reasonable around meeting the requirements that IPSA want to set out but I think some of the things they’re expecting me to do and the time constraints they’re placing on me are unreasonable.

"I thought everything else was going quite well until this year, which has been really difficult. It’s causing me so much stress, anxiety, upset and worry - if you’re not getting the support you need then how are you supposed to be effective?” 

An IPSA spokesperson said: “IPSA fully supports a diverse parliament. We, and others, can do more to achieve that. IPSA works closely with MPs and their staff to ensure that funding is provided to support their parliamentary and constituency work, in line with the rules.

"In particular, we support comprehensive assessments of the specific needs of MPs and their staff, so that any reasonable adjustments can be identified and quickly funded to help them in their jobs."