News that taxpayers could foot the bill for festive gatherings comes as the cost of living crisis continues to affect millions across the UK
For the first time ever, MPs will be able to claim Christmas party supplies for staff meetings on their expenses. This is in line with the guidelines of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).
MPs will be able to claim items such as food and drink for staff Christmas parties this year. However, they will not be able to claim on alcoholic beverages. Information from Ipsa is part of the answers to frequently asked questions about what MPscan claims on their expenses.
Other items taxpayers will foot the bill for include Christmas decorations such as garlands and Christmas trees. Ipsa also reminded MPs that their claims “should represent good value for money, especially in the current economic climate”.
Ipsa is the watchdog for Members’ expenses and, through its website, provides regularly updated guidelines and information on what can be claimed from expenses. They say that all demands must be for parliamentary purposes and in accordance with the rules of the Members’ Staffing and Professional Expenses Regime.
Housing is also on Ipsa’s list of acceptable items – most MPs are required to live in two places. Another regularly seen item on expenses is travel. MPs, their staff and their families are funded for travel between their constituency and London.
However, Ipsa says MPs are not funded for journeys to or from work or trips to party conferences. The Ipsa site reads“We do not fund travel for MPs to commute to and from their accommodation and work in their constituencies or in London and we do not fund travel for party political purposes, such as attending annual party conferences or campaign.”
Jess Phillips, Labor MP for Birmingham Yardley, tweeted in response to the news saying ‘no one she knows will use it’. The MP added that she would be hosting a party for her staff at her home and that all food and drink would be at her expense.
She said: “I just want to say no one asked for it, no one I know will use it. The advice was not given by MPs and yet we will be pilloried for it. I think ‘It’s really irresponsible to issue these guidelines as if MPs are asking for them when I’ve literally never heard anyone do that.
“I have a tree in my office that we dust every year and decorations (garlands and balls from Wilkos) that I paid for. We have homemade decorations made by kids at a local school and knitted string lights made by a lovely local knitting group (again I paid for).
“I will be having a Christmas party for my staff, this will be at my house where I will cook and pay for all the food and drink. Again I repeat there has been no complaint for this from MPs and that is stupid.