Accommodation Expenses: Transparency is essential for public trust
19th October 2012
The abuse of the expenses system by some MPs in the last Parliament was disgraceful, and deeply damaging of public trust in Parliament. The system was wrong, and has rightly been reformed. It is reasonable for additional costs incurred in having to travel between, and work in, the constituency and Westminster should be met, but MPs should not be profiting from the arrangement. It was profoundly wrong that the accommodation allowance meant MPs could make capital gains on 2nd homes financed by public money, and that the last Parliament thought this was acceptable.
The public have every right to expect - and get - total transparency. Receipt of public monies carries with it a responsibility to be totally transparent.
I believe that the public and the media must have access to all the information about their MP’s expense claims necessary for them to know how much public money their MP is claiming, what it is being spent on and whether anyone is profiting from the arrangement. I do not believe that the House of Commons should try and restrict access to this information.
In my own case, as one of the new MPs elected in 2010 and not involved in the last Parliament’s scandal, I take the repair of public trust in Parliament very seriously, and do everything I can to keep the cost of my expenses as low as possible, to make sure I am only claiming for costs incurred as a result of doing the job of an MP and not profiting from the arrangement, and am 100% transparent. For the record:
- I have never claimed a penny of public money towards any property I own.
- I do not, and never have, rented a flat to, or from, another MP.
- I keep my accommodation expense claim as low as possible by renting a single bedroom in London only for the nights I need to be there when Parliament is sitting. As a result I keep the cost to the taxpayer to only 20% of the allowance for overnight accommodation.
- In the first 2 months following my election in May 2010, whilst I was organising this accommodation arrangement, I claimed against the IPSA overnight ‘hotel’ allowance for the 19 nights in which it was necessary to stay overnight in London. Cost / night: £85. Total cost £1621.25).
- Following my selection as a candidate my wife and I bought a home in Norfolk, where we have lived since 2007. When Parliament is sitting I travel to London on a Monday and stay 3 nights before returning on a Thursday. My wife and children remain at home in Norfolk. My wife and I bought our first home, a flat in London, in 2000, 10 years before I was elected. It has been rented out since 2004. We have never sought or received a penny of public funding for any property we own.
- I have always tried to be 100% transparent and disclosed all/any claims and interests including putting a link on my website to the Candidates Declaration of Interests prior to the Election, and to the IPSA Register of Expenses and Interests.
- Apart from in the first few weeks after the Election, When I was getting my accommodation sorted I have never stayed in a hotel or sought payment for hotel stays under the Accommodation allowance: ‘hotel’ is the IPSA category it has used to describe my single bedroom rental arrangement.
I have set out below the amounts I claim, and have claimed, for accommodation since being elected.
If you have any queries about anything related to my expenses, please contact me at email@example.com or 020 7219 1940.
IPSA Accommodation Allowances
|Total Annual Accommodation Expenditure Allowance:||£20,000 PA|
|Overnight Allowance (hotel etc)||£150 / night|
|George Freeman claim: Annual (Apr 2011 – Apr 2012):||£3,960|
|Overnight Room Rental:||£40 / night|
(To view George’s parliamentary expenses please click the following link to visit The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority page)