Following recent reports on MPs renting accommodation, we wanted to include some more facts for the debate.
· We ended the practice of MPs getting a taxpayer subsidy to own a second property. It is clear this is what the public wanted and MPs can no longer claim for a mortgage from the taxpayer.
· Instead we have a system of clear rules for renting, capped budgets limiting how much MPs can claim, and transparency - we regularly publish details of who claims what and when – for their rent and all other claims.
· The budget for accommodation expenditure in London is £20,000 a year. Taking account of utility costs, council tax etc, the rental limit equates to £1450 a month.
· MPs are not allowed to rent from family members or other “connected parties” (ie, people with whom they share a business interest).
· The story in today’s paper is testament to how much information is publicly available – this is all from published data.
· On the point of MPs having properties they rent out – this is an issue of their own private financial affairs over which we rightly have no authority. We cannot say an MP should not own a property or properties, or restrict what they do with those properties on the open market.
· We have a system, built on public consultation. We have found a balance between being fair to taxpayers and MPs. But, as at any point in the last 3 years, we invite anyone who has a view on MPs’ business costs and expenses, or indeed their pay and pensions, to talk to us. The next public consultation on the rules will launch in November 2012. As part of this we will consider the issue of MPs renting from other MPs.
· We have received an FOI request asking for MPs’ landlords’ names. In handling this we have to be mindful of the need to protect security. There are concerns that releasing the identity of a landlord, when taken alongside information already available - including the area they live in and the name of the MP - that it would reveal the full address of an MP. Clearly we don’t want to put MPs’ security at risk.
· We have not decided against releasing this data - we are working to get the information we need to get this right. We’ll respond to the request in November.
For more call Mark Anderson 020 7811 6488