Expenses claims: MP among top ten

JOHN Healey has come out fighting after a report showed he was in the top ten biggest spending MPs.

The Wentworth & Dearne MP ran up costs of more than £253,000 to the taxpayer in 2020/21, on top of his £82,000 salary.

The figures released by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority revealed his spending included £188,418 on staffing costs, including employing his wife Jackie as part-time office manager, plus £6,285 on travel and subsistence and £22,888 on accommodation.

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Mr Healey pointed out all the costs had been rigorously checked and said the number of appeals for help from constituents had trebled during the Covid crisis.

But Chris Jackson, who lives in Mr Healey’s patch, said: “As a constituent, I am concerned that he is the tenth most expensive MP in the country.

“Why is this? His constituency is relatively compact and is not far from Westminster — compared with Inverness, for example.

“The MPs claiming most should be furthest from Westminster due to travel. “So why is he claiming so much compared with other MPs?”

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Mr Healey, Labour’s shadow defence secretary, said: “Constituents deserve the best I can do. I want to give the best possible support and service to constituents which is why I run an office that’s open to the public so people can always get hold of me when they need me, I employ good staff to work with me and I travel home to the constituency every week.  

“This has proved even more important during the Covid crisis, when the volume of requests for help or information trebled.  

“There’s rightly a very tight system for making sure every penny of public money is spent on MPs providing a service to the public and every cost is properly receipted and independently checked before payment.”

IPSA’s report revealed Mr Healey’s Labour colleague, Rotherham MP Sarah Champion, had expenses for 2020/21 of £180,465 while Rother Valley’s Tory MP, Alexander Stafford spent £196,787.

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Don Valley MP Nick Fletcher, whose patch includes Conisbrough and Sprotbrough, billed the taxpayer to the tune of £176,834.93, while Doncaster North’s Ed Miliband – the MP for Mexborough, spent £185,734.20.

Mr Healey was tenth in the biggest spenders’ table once salaries are discounted.

Britain’s most expensive MP was the member for Broxtowe, Darren Henry, with total spending of £280,936, while the least expensive was Kettering MP, Philip Hollobone, spending £80,709.

Mr Healey came under fire in 2020 when it emerged his office submitted claims of 80p for milk, which his staff said was used to make drinks for visiting constituents.

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The 2020/21 figures make no reference to milk but there are several 80p claims tagged as “hospitality”.

Mr Stafford was forced to defend himself at the time after claiming 9p for mileage — a sum he said had been claimed as MPs were required to register all business travel.

In 2020/21, his lowest mileage claim was for £1.08 for a 2.4-mile journey.

IPSA’s figures revealed the average cost of an MP increased by 29 per cent over the first year of the Covid pandemic, from £157,747 in 2019/20 to £203,880 in 2020/21.

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Kit Malthouse was the most expensive MP attending the cabinet in 2020/21, with total costs of £244,312 — this was way above the £178,406 for prime minister Boris Johnson and £168,109 for opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer.   

Expenses for travel and subsistence claims cost the taxpayer a total of £2,052,140 in 2020-21, an average of £3,157 for each member of parliament. The total fell by 63.3 per cent during the pandemic, from the £5,584,790 spent in 2019-20. 

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s important MPs have the resources to do their jobs, but many taxpayers will be worried about the soaring cost of politics.

“The electorate expects politicians to stay grounded and keep costs under control, particularly given the covid pandemic saw many MPs and their staff work from home. 

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“With taxpayers facing a cost of living crisis, politicians should be doing their utmost to keep their spending down.” 

 

John Healey

Sarah Champion

Alexander Stafford

Office spending:

JH 34,897.63

SC 25,719.64

AS 34,051.88

Staff costs

JH 188,418.27

SC 130,582.32

AS 139,898.96

Accommodation

JH 22,888.11

SC 22,494.8

AS 19,122.5

Travel and Subsistence Spend

6,285.64

1,669.04

3,623.94

Total

253,715.65

180,465.8

196,787.04