Bob And Other MPs Exploit Loophole To Claim Thousands Without Receipts

(Telegraph) – DOZENS OF MPS HAVE EXPLOITED A LOOPHOLE in expenses rules to claim thousands of pounds of public money without the need for receipts.

Parliament’s failure to demand proof of purchases for items costing less than £25 led to an abundance of claims for household goods and bills of £24, or just under.

Many MPs submitted several claims each month for miscellaneous items valued between £20 and £25, which were automatically paid because the parliamentary fees office did not have the power to ask to see receipts.

MPs’ expenses claims for the last financial year, released this week, also show that an attempt to reduce claims for food has failed, with MPs regularly claiming up to £400 a month for meals — the same amount they were allowed under the old system.

Among those who submitted unreceipted claims for just under £25 was Kali Mountford, the Labour MP for Colne Valley. She claimed exactly £25 for phone bills, cleaning, service/maintenance and repairs, but in June 2008 the fees office refused to pay, saying she had to submit documentation to back up each claim. The following month she claimed £23 for her phone and £24 each for utilities, cleaning, service and repairs, which were all paid.

Sir George Young, the shadow leader of the House, submitted a claim for £25 for cleaning. When he was told he would need a receipt, he replied, “I will forgo cleaning for May” — then started claiming £20 per month.

[Bob Spink, our local MP, undertook a similar strategy. When his claim for £25 ‘cleaning’ was refused by the fees office in April 2008, for having no accompanying receipt, he was careful to reduce all his following claims – including those for utilities and telephone — to just beneath that amount.

His letter (inset) drew his attention to being able to claim £400 a month for food, so it comes as no surprise to find our frugal Bob claiming it in full the very next month and ensuring to take every opportunity to claim it in subsequent monthly expenses.

The taxpayer also paid the cost of £212.18 in instruction and administration charges arising from his non-payment of service charges for his Westminster flat, which are routinely paid for by the fees office.]

Meanwhile, a decision to replace a £400 monthly food allowance with a £25 per night subsistence allowance appears to have backfired.

The Labour MP Ann Clwyd claimed £400 for food in April, only to be told she must claim £25 subsistence for each night she had spent away from her main home. She sent in a “revised” claim for 16 nights, which totalled £400, and which was paid.