No Cost of Living Crisis for High-Earning MPs Claiming a Quarter of a Million Pounds to Heat Second Homes
After the criticism of MPs for second jobs, Andrew Kersley reports on the expenses they claim for second homes
The UK’s highest earning MPs claim the highest amount in energy bills for second homes on expenses, Byline Times can reveal
Last year, 64 MPs pocketed more than £20,000 from second jobs each, while also charging taxpayers an average of £900 per claim each to pay the heating and electricity bills in their second homes.
When the 33 MPs were added who served as Government ministers rather than outside roles, who earn tens of thousands of pounds on top of their base MP salary, the average rises to £952.
MPs who earned less also claimed less on expenses with an average claim of just under £800 per MP, meaning the highest-earning MPs claimed between 13% and 20% more on average (depending on if you include ministers in the average).
The parliament-wide average claim (including both high-earning MPs and their peers) for utility bills was £819. The outside earnings and expenses claims come on top of MPs’ now £84,000 a year salary.
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The disparity will add to concerns that some politicians are out of touch with a country in the grips of a cost-of-living crisis.
Overall, British taxpayers paid over £246,000 to cover the cost of powering and heating MPs’ second homes in London.
Beneficiaries included MPs earning hundreds of thousands of pounds and MPs that had taken on high-paying roles as a parliamentary lobbyist for the gambling industry as well as an advisory role for an investment firm based in a tax haven.
Byline Times discovered the information by comparing MPs’ expenses filings and the declaration of interests for the same period between April 2021 and March 2022 – the last full financial year.
Former Welsh Secretary Bill Wiggin earned £57,515 in that period largely as a managing director of Emerging Asset Management Ltd, which manages investment funds from tax havens Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
Meanwhile, Conservative MP for Tewkesbury Laurence Robertson earned £27,295 on top of his over £80,000 MP salary largely as a parliamentary advisor to gambling lobby group the Betting and Gaming Council.
Both asked the taxpayer to pay their energy bills for their second homes in London, at a cost of £3008 and £1668 respectively.
Tory MP Dan Poulter claimed £1529 in expenses for energy bills while earning £25,536 that year, largely as a non-executive director for pharmaceutical company Kanabo Group.
Conservative MP John Hayes earned £120,220 in 2021-2022 from a mixture of advisory roles, work as a part-time politics professor and a £625 an hour role as a strategic advisor to energy trading firm BB Energy Trading Ltd.
At the same time, the backbencher claimed £28,618 in rent, including £662 in utilities, for a second home in London.
554 MPs representing constituencies outside of London are allowed to file on expenses the cost of a second home in London, including rent and energy bills, according to the rules of the parliamentary expenses regulator IPSA.
Overall around £9.6 million pounds was spent by taxpayers to pay for the rent and bills of MPs’ second homes. £5.4 million of that total went to Conservative MPs – or an average of £19,497 a year per claiming party MP.
In April, openDemocracy revealed that British MPs have charged taxpayers £420,000 for energy bills in their second homes over the last three years.
Among then-serving Cabinet ministers, Matt Hancock made the most cost of living claims in 2021-2022, calling on the British taxpayer to fund £34,242 worth of second home costs, including £3496 in energy bills, the third highest amount in all of parliament.
The only MPs to claim more on utility bills than the former Health Secretary are backbench Tory Stuart Anderson, who claimed £3768, and Labour MP Liam Byrne, who claimed £3723.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman, meanwhile, claimed £2881 from taxpayers to pay her energy bills last year.
In March, the Government dropped plans to cap the amount MPs could earn from second jobs despite having previously voted in favour of the measures just months before.
The original move came after former Conservative minister Owen Paterson was found to have breached lobbying rules while earning £110,000 working as a consultant, for private medical firm Randox and meat processor Lynn’s Country Foods.
When an MPs annual earning only covered part of a year in question, Byline Times created an average for the amount of income they would have received for that period (i.e. a £30,000 a year job worked for six months was worth £15,000).
IPSA refused to comment.