Monday, 15 February 2010

MP's Expenses Fiasco

The news that the body to oversee MPs expenses is going to cost £6m, whilst MPs have had their repayments reduced to £1m, is a disgrace. As an accountant I fail to see why the expenses claims for 645 MPs needs 80 staff at an average cost of £75,000 each. How frequently does their claim change? Even if they claimed every month, you could do the job with a couple of accountants and two clerks. Cost £250,000 tops, including the paper clips.

Don’t assume that just because the vast majority of MPs have not been prosecuted, that they are squeaky clean. Richmond MP William Hague for instance was reported to have claimed mortgage interest payments of up to £1,200 per month on a second home in London. That is £144,000 per year subsidy on a home he keeps and profits from. A home probably worth more than one million pounds, based on the interest paid.

Did he pay tax on this benefit? Any other citizen provided with this benefit would have to pay income tax and national insurance on the full amount. The tax alone (at 40%) would have been £57,600. There was no scandal in the newspapers about William Hague’s expenses. Yet he quietly walked away with over £200,000 worth of benefits over and above his salary, plus all his office costs.

MPs should work to the same rules and pay the same taxes as the rest of us. All MPs who have profited from their privileged positions, whether legal or not, should stand aside and let more principled representatives take their place.

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