Monday, July 14, 2014

MPs Moan as IPSA Boss Wants Second Term

Sir Ian Kennedy, Chairman of their expenses watchdog IPSA, will be seeking another term as chief defender against the piggy-fiddlers, Despite being widely disliked by both MPs and officials, Sir Ian has told friends he has ‘thrown his hat in again’ despite some confusion about whether he’s even allowed to serve a second term in the £100,000 job.

Well at least MPs of all colours will have something to grumble about for the summer.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

IPSA’s False Deal

IPSA have confirmed their recommendation to whack up MPs’ pay to £74,000. Their reforms in full:

  • A one-off uplift in salary to £74,000 in 2015, an increase of 9.26%, to address the historic shortfall. Thereafter, MPs’ pay will be linked to average earnings – if they go up, so will MPs’. If they don’t, neither will MPs’.
  • A new pension on a par with those in other parts of the public service, saving the taxpayer millions. Following public consultation on our proposals from earlier this year, we have decided to increase MPs’ pension contributions further, reducing the cost to the taxpayer even further.
  • Scrapping out-of-touch “resettlement payments” worth tens of thousands of pound per MP. These will be replaced with more modest loss-of-office payments, which will be available only to those who contest their seat and lose.
  • A tighter regime of business costs and expenses, including ending the provision for evening meals.

IPSA seem to be taking the approach that they have to come to some sort of deal with MPs; that if MPs agree not to fiddle their expenses, sign up to a more reasonable expenses regime, increase their contribution towards their gold-plated pensions and give up their resettlement payments, then they can have a pay rise. This is a false offer. There is absolutely nothing to stop IPSA toughening up on expenses and pensions and ditching the resettlement grant with no pay rise sweetener attached. The only ‘deal’ on the table should be that all these things happen without the condition of a pay rise…

IPSA’s Imaginary Pay Problem


Writing in The Times this morning, IPSA’s Sir Ian Kennedy is adamant

ipsaWe will announce a one-off pay rise. Thereafter MPs’ pay will move with the pay of the rest of us. That’s a sensible way forward, which we will implement after a further review of conditions in 2015.

I know there is a tension between the reasoning and the politics but we were asked to fix the problem for a generation, not for a news cycle. That is what we have done. The alternative approach takes us back to the days of political deals, with scandal never far away. I can’t believe anyone seriously believes that is the way forward.

Of all the problems in politics, the problem of underpaid MPs is not one that Guido or the voters have noticed. MPs are paid a handsome £66,396, plus another £14,728 if they chair one of the 39 select committees. If they make it to Cabinet, the pay goes up to £134,565 — more than doubling their salary. They are paid a basic salary that puts them in the top income decile. For this, as Gordon Brown shows, they have to do nothing. They also get another £20,100 towards accommodation expenses. Hundreds of them are paid more as ministers or for having extra responsibilities – chairing committees. The average MP costs taxpayers over £100,000 in pay and personal expenses.

It is little acknowledged by IPSA that since 2000 MPs’ earnings have outstripped the consumer price index and since the 1980s their earnings have risen from double the average to the triple figure that they enjoy today. Although politicians are professionally skilled in advancing an argument, they will find it impossible to convince the public that they have gone from being worth twice the average wage to being three times as much. There is no lack of applicants for MPs’ jobs. There is no pay problem.

Monday, November 18, 2013

IPSA-daisy

Bernard Jenkin, chairman of the Public Administration committee, said of the re-renting scandal:

“There must be no impression that parliamentary expenses are being used as back door funding for political parties.” 

Kicked into action, last week IPSA published a list of MPs that rent off their parties or unions. 

When IPSA was set up former Labour MP Tony Wright was appointed as the only politician to its board, on account of his seemingly clean expenses. So awkward then that Wright spent the better part of two decades renting an office in “Jennie Lee House” in his constituency. The clue is in the name – Lee was the widow of Nye Bevan and the building is owned by Labour. Always good to have an expert nearby! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Exclusive: IPSA Makes Thousands of False Tax Declarations

The pen-pushers at IPSA are meant to restore confidence in the expenses system and avoid the pitfalls of paperwork cock-ups, deliberate or not, that have blighted Parliament for so long. Red faces all round then as it seems thousands of MPs staff will get a bit of a shock when they open their annual P60 certificate.

When IPSA was founded, they  hammered home the fact that Members would remain the legal employer of their staff. Their contracts make this very clear:

Staff pay-slips back this up. However, the P60 end of year tax certificates, sent to every staffer, state that the employer is “IPSA 7th floor, Portland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5BH”:

Simply not the case.

A P60 is proof that tax has been paid and the details are meant to be watertight. Guido understands this is what is known technically as “a massive cock-up” rather than a deliberate shift in the employment rules. IPSA have made clear they will replace the P60 with a correct one if staff complain, but it seems they weren’t going to announce the blunder publicly. MPs will be chortling into their subsidised pints that IPSA has messed up their own paperwork. The fact that IPSA can’t get something as basic  as Parliament’s P60’s right, doesn’t bode well for the rest of their duties…

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

How Do You Solve a Problem Like IPSA?

Before Parliament has even resumed for the year, the battle between IPSA and the MPs has flared up again, with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority attempting to use the public as a human shield against aggrieved members. IPSA clearly isn’t working, but the MPs prove time and again that they cannot be trusted to be their own expenses regulator. This morning IPSA have opened up a public consultation for six weeks on how to fix the problems. The PM has warned they have until April to sort it out…

Guido has said it before, and will submit the idea formally, that a House of Commons debit card is the best way to regulate legitimate expenses. The transactions would as normal be electronically recorded automatically and could thus be published online automatically, the spending limits would be automatic and bureaucracy would be minimal. The idea was proposed in Disinfecting Parliament, a 2009 report from the Sunlight Centre that recommended a number of measures based on best practice in the private sector that could easily be transferred to IPSA. MPs have called for a fairer and simpler system, what could be easier than the debit card plan?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

+++ Auditor General Refuses to Sign Off MPs Expenses +++

The £800,000 worth of non-existant receipts between 2009/10 was, unsurprisingly, a bit of an issue. And that was before the £1.8 million claimed by MPs on trial or under investigation by the Police was taken out of consideration…

Developing…

UPDATE: The statement:

“The qualification arises because the House authorities were unable to provide evidence to support payments to MPs of £2.6 million, including £0.8 million that remains unsupported despite a major exercise to obtain evidence retrospectively and £1.8 million where evidence is not available for audit because the MPs are under investigation by the police.In addition, the evidence supporting £11.3 million of costs reimbursed to Members was not sufficient for the C&AG to confirm the expenditure had been incurred for Parliamentary purposes. This is despite the evidence having been obtained in accordance with the rules governing the MPs’ Expenses Scheme.”

So around £1,200 per Member that they cannot support? Who was it that said they had changed…

Friday, December 3, 2010

IPSA-Daisy III

The MPs got to have a good moan about IPSA, some of it justified, a lot of it hot air, in the House yesterday. Amongst the rants and rages was one snippet that stood out from Labour’s Ann Clewyd. She directly accused IPSA’s ironically named communications director Anne Power of leaking details to the press of MPs expenses.

Since IPSA’s inception stories have appeared about MPs and staffers that they certainly wouldn’t be briefing to hacks. An official denial has been sent out, but it’s certainly a leaky organisation. Obviously the accusation was protected by parliamentary privilege, but something tells Guido that she wouldn’t be suing if it was said in the real world…

Monday, November 22, 2010

First Piggy on Trial as IPSA Blows More Cash

As Elliot Morley’s trial gets underway today, the MPs’ expenses bee will simply not leave the Westminster bonnet. ePolitix reports that IPSA are going to spend a million pounds releasing the MPs expense claims data, though there is some confusion over whether receipts will be included in that. While this undoubtedly a good move theoreatically, ironically it will happen on the same day, the 2nd December, that the future of the omnishambolic IPSA is debated in the House. Guido cannot get his head around why it’s going to cost such a staggering amount of money though? He is pretty sure he could do the job with a couple of scanners and some interns for half the price…

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

IPSA-a-Daisy II

Last month they were accidentally paying people when they shouldn’t and now today, payday, it’s the turn of the bag-carriers and researchers to rage at IPSA. Scores of Parliamentary staff have been underpaid this month, with errors ranging from £20 to £300 shy. An all round saving  for the taxpayer.

When one lowly staffer phoned the IPSA offices to complain, they could not come up with an explanation, though ever helpful they replied – “We’ve got some P45 forms if you want one of those?”


Seen Elsewhere

Comply or Die at Grauniad | MediaGuido
Labour Beats UKIP in South Yorkshire | LabourList
Mock the Week’s Weak Comedy | Nigel Farage
Can Jim Murphy Save Scottish Labour? | Guardian
There is Still Appetite for the Westminster Lunch | Jon Craig
Labour Turn Their Backs on Jewish Community | Dan Hodges
Chivalry is Not Dead | Laura Perrins
Jonathan Jones is a Tw*t | Iain Dale
Second Scotland Poll Suggests Labour Wipeout | Times
Paedo Probe Boss Urged to Quit | Sun
Keynesian Tories Won’t Eliminate Deficit | Tim Montgomerie


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