The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has issued updated guidance, which states every MP can access the additional cash to boost their office costs budget.
At the other end of the spectrum, we may all clap for the key NHS workers yet their wages remain woefully low.
Moreover, nearly a third of businesses in the midlands and the north of England are at high risk of collapse due to Covid-19 according to a recent report. https://uknip.co.uk/2020/04/09/almost-a-third-of-businesses-in-the-midlands-and-the-north-of-england-are-at-high-risk-of-collapse-due-to-covid-19/
The report reviewed over 1.7 million businesses in these geographical areas, spread across 99 different sectors, and found that 29% of these are at high risk due to how their supply chains operate. The report also shows that around 35% of the firms are either at low or medium risk due to the potential impact of Covid-19.
Mark Menzies, who has been the Member of Parliament for Fylde in Lancashire since 2010, office responded to a similar article in the Times with the following comment: –
“What has happened is that IPSA (the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority – set up after the expenses scandal, prior to me being an MP, with no control or oversight by MPs) decided on 19 March to extend the budget for MPs’ office costs by £10,000 for the year ahead. This is not money that would go into an MP’s pocket, or that of their staff.
Members of Parliament are working hard to try to serve those who they represent to the best of their ability. This is, in short, a contingency fund to help cover any additional costs that may arise from that work in such unprecedented times.
If used, this additional budget would go on things like computer equipment to facilitate home working for both Members of Parliament and their staff. Any claim on the budget would have to come with receipts and IPSA would be well within their right to turn a claim down if they thought it was unnecessary, unreasonable or inappropriate. All expenses claims by MPs are published, so that the public can see what their money is being spent on.
The past few weeks have seen a huge increase in people contacting their MPs for help and advice, especially key workers, struggling businesses and those stuck overseas trying to get home, whilst MPs have also had to manage the disruption of changing the way we do our work.
In my case, coronavirus has completely changed the way my office is run. Both my constituency and Westminster offices are currently closed with my team of staff working from home. They are working using either existing IT or using their own personal IT equipment, telephones and so on.
Thankfully, I have not had any need to use this additional budget but as we have no idea what is ahead of us and how long we will be in this situation, I will say that if I have to access this contingency budget to ensure my staff and I have all the resources we need to work efficiently and safely on behalf of the people of Fylde, I will. I am sure the same can be said for other MPs.
It is disappointing the Times have chosen to misrepresent this in a way that has left some with the entirely false impression, and allowed others to be completely taken in, that MPs have given themselves a pay increase whilst so many are suffering, when this could not be further from the truth.”