MPs’ expenses scandal lives on

A decade on from the MPs' expenses scandal and little has changed.


"Nearly a decade ago, in the wake of the expenses scandal, parliament declared itself thoroughly cleaned up," says The Daily Telegraph. It has now been revealed that, following a "series of creeping rule changes", some MPs are able to claim nearly double the amount to which they were previously entitled.

Before 2009, MPs were able to claim up to £24,000 for buying and furnishing a London property. Some were claiming for mortgage interest and, when the properties were sold, avoiding capital gains tax and pocketing the gains. In 2010 it was decided that MPs could claim up to £1,450 a month to rent a second home in London.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Become a smarter, better informed investor with MoneyWeek.

Over the years, additional payments for dependent children have become more generous. Today, MPs can claim £5,435 a year for each "dependent" child under 21. As a result, they are "increasingly claiming" that children over 18 who do not live with them are dependents.

The fact that the total amount claimed is edging up to pre-2009 levels should come as "no surprise", says Tom Harris on CapX. Rental costs are frequently higher than an interest-only mortgage. The previous system was "cynically exploited", but we do need a system that doesn't leave MPs "out of pocket" when they're in London. The case for an annual flat rate payment needs to be made. Spending more than necessary on repayments to MPs and on an "expensive and cumbersome" quango (Ipsa) to oversee them is unsustainable.

Advertisement - Article continues below

When dreaming up a new system, we should also consider the effect that the 2009 "public shaming" has had on British politics, says Douglas Murray on UnHerd. It has discouraged the bright, talented people with a variety of "lucrative side careers" from entering politics. The House of Commons today is increasingly full of people who are "timid, limited" career politicians "for whom politics is absolutely everything and who, therefore, have very little to bring to it".




How long can the good times roll?

Despite all the doom and gloom that has dominated our headlines for most of 2019, Britain and most of the rest of the developing world is currently en…
19 Dec 2019

Beyond the Brexit talk, the British economy isn’t doing too badly

The political Brexit pantomime aside, Britain is in pretty good shape. With near-record employment, strong wage growth and modest inflation, there is …
17 Oct 2019

Rishi Sunak: the maharaja of the Yorkshire Dales

Rishi Sunak is taking the reins of the world’s fifth-largest economy at a crucial juncture. The unflashy but likeable youngster may be just the man fo…
20 Feb 2020
UK Economy

What is Britain’s new economic policy?

At the moment, Britain doesn’t seem to have an economic policy. But radical-seeming announcements and the surprise ousting of the chancellor portend m…
20 Feb 2020

Most Popular


Will coronavirus kill off the bull market?

It seems clear now the coronavirus will at some point go global. And when it does, will it bring down the stockmarket’s bull market? John Stepek looks…
27 Feb 2020

Gold, coronavirus, and the high cost of face masks in northern Italy

The price of gold is spiking – as it always does in a global panic. But this bull market predates the coronavirus epidemic, says Dominic Frisby, and w…
26 Feb 2020

What to look out for as panic over coronavirus spreads

Markets have started to get properly worried about the coronavirus outbreak. And it’s not just stocks, says John Stepek. Here’s what you should be kee…
28 Feb 2020

Why investors shouldn’t overlook Europe

SPONSORED CONTENT - Ollie Beckett, manager of the TR European Growth Trust, tackles investor questions around Europe’s economic outlook and the conseq…
6 Nov 2019