MPs working from home during lockdown charge taxpayers for the extra gas and electricity | Daily Mail Online

MPs have been charging the taxpayer for extra gas and electricity while working from home during lockdown.

Members of Parliament claimed £9.1 million in expenses despite working largely remotely during the first 2020 lockdown, compared to £8.2million in 2019.  

Between the stay at home order announced on March 16 and pubs reopening on July 4, the travel bill for MPs and their staff dropped by 78 per cent – from £1.8million to £412,000, an analysis shows. 

But claims for heating and electricity rose, with MPs charging £48,723 for April last year – the sunniest on record – representing a rise of around one per cent from April 2019, the Sunday Times reports. 

While lockdowns mean more workers staying home during the day, sparking higher energy bills, campaigners have claimed it is one rule for ordinary workers and another for MPs, as few major companies have offered to pay back they employees’ increased remote working bills, reports say.  

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) says that MPs are allowed to claim for additional energy bills, classed as ‘office costs’.

They can charge taxpayers for utility bills for their main residence and constituency office as long as the claims ‘relate to parliamentary activity’. 

Labour MP for Preston, Sir Mark Hendrick, claimed £126 for electricity and fuel in April and May for ‘home working’ due to the pandemic.  

Labour MP for Preston, Sir Mark Hendrick (left), claimed £126 for electricity and fuel in April and May for ‘home working’ due to the pandemic. The MP for Chesterfield, Labour’s Toby Perkins (right), justified a £345 electricity bill claim in September by saying that it had ‘increased March onwards whilst working from home’

Figures for June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020 reveal that MPs claimed nearly £29 million (pictured: the total claim each month) 

The MP for Chesterfield, Labour’s Toby Perkins, justified a £345 electricity bill claim in September by saying that it had ‘increased March onwards whilst working from home’.

Chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, John O’Connell, said: ‘While MPs must have the resources to do their jobs, many taxpayers will be worried about the growing price of politics. 

‘The electorate expects politicians to stay grounded and keep costs under control, including the home working expenses that most people simply have to absorb themselves.’

Figures for June 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020 reveal that MPs claimed nearly £29 million.

The four highest claiming MPs for that period were Brendan O’Hara, Drew Hendry, Ian Blackford and Lisa Cameron – all of whom are Scottish National Party politicians. 

These are followed by Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael, Thirsk and Malton’s Kevin Hollinrake, and the SNP’s Philippa Whitford, for Central Ayrshire. 

These MPs’ position as top expense claimers is likely related to their Scottish constituencies being far away from Westminster, having to go back and forth between the two for constituency and parliamentary work. 

So too is this likely reflected in the average total claimed by each party. 

The Conservatives claimed an average of £33,306.77, while Labour claimed £38,549.26. Liberal Democrats claimed £33,911.90 on average, while the SNP average total claim was £57,639.99.

The four highest claiming MPs for that period were Brendan O’Hara, Drew Hendry, Ian Blackford and Lisa Cameron – all of whom are Scottish National Party politicians. These are followed by Liberal Democrat Alistair Carmichael, Thirsk and Malton’s Kevin Hollinrake, and the SNP’s Philippa Whitford, for Central Ayrshire

The Conservatives claimed an average of £33,306.77, while Labour claimed £38,549.26. 

Liberal Democrats claimed £33,911.90 on average, while the SNP average total claim was £57,639.99.  

Seven MPs made zero claims. From the Conservative Party, Jacob Rees-Mogg, George Hollingbery, Zac Goldsmith, Suella Fernandes, and Kenneth Clarke. 

Independent MP Jared O’Mara, for Sheffield, Hallam, and the Lib Dems’ Thomas Brake, also charged £0 in expenses. 

The most expensive claim came from the SNP’s Martin Docherty-Hughes, of West Dunbartonshire, who claimed £20,100 for rent. 

The most expensive claim came from the SNP’s Martin Docherty-Hughes, of West Dunbartonshire, who claimed £20,100 for rent

Seven MPs made zero claims. From the Conservative Party, Jacob Rees-Mogg, George Hollingbery, Zac Goldsmith, Suella Fernandes, and Kenneth Clarke. Independent MP Jared O’Mara, for Sheffield, Hallam, and the Lib Dems’ Thomas Brake, also charged £0 in expenses

The runner-up was Labour’s Marie Rimmer, of St Helens South and Whiston, with ‘direct rental payment’ costing £13,200.

The Conservatives’ Bob Neill, of Bromley and Chislehurst, claimed £12,558.20 for the same expense.  

Households are expected to see energy bills rise £18 this winter as the third national lockdown keeps Britons working from home, meaning homes need to be kept warm all day, not just early morning and evening. 

Companies can pay staff working from home as much as £26 a month tax-free to help with utilities, as many civil service departments have done, but many in the private sector have chosen not to.  

MPs claimed £1.7million more for ‘office costs’ during the first lockdown, representing a rise of 41 per cent. Accommodation cost the taxpayer £639,000 – a 28 per cent increase. 

They had been given a £10,000 budget each to put towards home offices when the pandemic started.  

This content was originally published here.