MPs’ expenses body expensive to run

THE BODY SET UP to clean up the Commons expenses scandal is expensive to run and not yet value for money, according to the MPs’ own Public Accounts Committee.

Chair Margaret Hodge (pictured) said 38% of claims checked by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) are for less money than the average cost of administering them.

And she said a 15% fall in the amount paid out cannot be claimed as an efficiency saving while many MPs report they are put off from claiming legitimate expenses because the claims process is so bureaucratic.

But in rare praise from a usually highly critical committee, Hodge said IPSA had done “a good job” getting the new system for verifying expenses running on time and paying claims accurately. And there was evidence public confidence in MPs was starting to improve.

In 2010-11, IPSA paid out over £118 million in total, comprising £98.6 million in salaries for MPs and their staff, and £19.5 million in MPs’ expenses.

IPSA assessed 99.7% of all MPs’ claims are within the rules and when claims are rejected it is overwhelmingly due to administrative error. And it found there had been no abuse of the system.

IPSA said the report demonstrated huge progress in a short time and said it confirmed costs are in line with other UK legislatures, adding: We are committed to building on this impressive start and further improving our efficiency and effectiveness.”

Image credit: Margaret Hodge ourcreativetalent flickr photostream

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