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MPs should be able to use the extra £10,000 for office support to help our communities cope with coronavirus

MPs have been allocated an extra £10,000 each to help them and their staff work from home.

3 min read

The Coronavirus crisis has seen a cessation of politics as usual with Parliament being closed down and all politicians showing previously unheard of restraint by working in a constructive and non partisan way as we see a national effort to overcome the epidemic.

However, when it comes to the controversial issue of MPs expenses it seems to be business as usual with no nuance, no moderation and of course bucket loads of bile in relation to the additional £10,000 allowance recently made available to MPs to enable them and their staff to work from home more effectively during this crisis.

Quite why it took over three weeks since the initial announcement was made for it to become a story is unclear but it is true that this crisis will require some MPs incurring additional expenditure to enable effective home working.

MPs staff have been asked to work from home if they can in accordance with government guidelines and they wont all have their own computer equipment to enable them to do this.

Apart from a few extra laptops though I’m not sure what the money would be needed for, but of course every MP runs their offices differently and will have different costs. Personally, I doubt I will need to spend any of this additional allowance and I should be able to find any extra costs incurred from within my existing budgets. I suspect other MPs will also be in this position and that many more will leave a substantial amount of this allowance unspent.

When millions of people are facing a huge drop in their income and massive uncertainty for many businesses it would of course be abhorrent if MPs were just left sitting on this cash or spending it on unnecessary items and even though IPSA have for no apparent reason relaxed the auditing requirements for expenditure I don’t think any MP would be foolish enough, given the history, to be anything less than absolutely scrupulous and transparent with any purchases.

So, given the press have left the public with the (incorrect) impression that we’ve already had that money in our back pocket, what should become of it?

Every part of our community is playing its part in fighting the health, social and economic consequences of this outbreak and one thing they all have in common is that they don’t have enough cash.

I have therefore asked the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (whose unilateral decision it was to “give” us the cash in the first place) for permission to use the money for wider community support in the fight against coronavirus.

We are in unprecedented times and there is a need for greater flexibility so we can support local charities and organisations in combating the virus. If the money has been allocated to us then it would be a shame if it were just returned to IPSA’s coffers; everyone loses.

MPs' and IPSA's reputations are tarnished by the whole business and vital support that could have been given is lost. I await IPSA’s response with interest.

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