A number of people have contacted me regarding press stories that MPs are receiving a £10,000 allowance for working from home.
Many believe that MPs have just had £10,000 put into their bank accounts as some kind of “bonus” for the inconvenience of working from home and, understandably there is universal anger.
At a time when millions of people are facing huge problems with their jobs and businesses threatened it was utterly tactless to announce that MPs were going to receive an extra allowance and worse, to allow this to be portrayed in some parts of the press as some kind of bonus or pay rise.
MPs who want to make use of this allowance will not be “given” the money but would be eligible to claim for any equipment that they need to enable themselves and their staff to work from home, up to a value of £10,000. This money is intended to enable MPs' staff to set up home working to support distressed constituents at a time of crisis, as many MPs have seen their casework soar as a direct result of coronavirus.
Like all MPs, I have incurred a few small costs in ensuring that I can continue to offer a full service to constituents, whilst all members of my team work from home. However, there will be no need for me to claim a penny from this new allowance. In short, I do not have this money and will not be using it.
Any claims submitted by an MP for anything under this scheme will be published online and be scrutinised very carefully by the press as well as by members of the public, and opponents from opposition parties.
This was not a decision made by MPs or Ministers but by an independent body called the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) who determine pay and allowances for MPs. When IPSA was established the law was framed to prevent MPs from having any say over its decisions. This was deliberately done to deal with the concern that MPs could be seen to award themselves overly large increases in pay and expenses.
I cannot speak for other MPs but I think a majority will also want to avoid using any of this allowance.
I am grateful to my team, who like many other employees across the country, have adjusted without complaint to working extraordinary hours from their homes and are making use of their own equipment the best they can.