Readers will remember Guido’s preview of the “re-renting” scandal, well today the full figures have been released. The taxpayer has been charged a total of £3,632,220 for 244 constituency office leases where the landlord is a political party. MPs claim expenses for their constituency office rent, then pay the money to their parties. It is taxpayer funding of political parties through the backdoor…
Readers will remember disgraced former Labour MP Joan Ryan, kicked out by the voters of Enfield North in 2010 after she was caught “flipping” her second home. Now she is standing for parliament again, pounding the streets listening to constituents’ concerns about their energy bills and campaigning on Labour’s doomed energy price freeze.
Back when she was their MP, Joan had no similar concerns about keeping warm in winter – receipts released during the expenses scandal show that she claimed £2,476 for gas and electricity utility bills for her second home on expenses. Clearly claiming £4,500 for repairs on her Enfield second home before flipping it with her flat in south London was not enough. No wonder local Labour activists begged members not to select her…
Dozens of MPs claims for their constituency office on expenses even though it is already owned by their local party or a friendly donor. Taxpayers end up effectively making a donation to party funds or refunding donations given privately. Parliamentary authorities have cottoned on to the “re-renting” scam and are preparing a report which will once again out dozens with their snouts in the trough. Yet another round of expenses scandals…
Guido can reveal one of the big name ministers set to be exposed is the LibDems’ Ed Davey. He claims £12,352 for 2012/13 on expenses for his constituency office rent in Surbiton – which is more than enough to cover any mortgage. As revealed in yesterday’s Sun column, deeds seen by Guido show that the property is already owned by the Kingston Liberal Democrat Property Company Ltd, and his wife Emily is a director of the company. The building is also being used by local LibDems as their headquarters for party political activity, subsidised nicely by the taxpayer.
We put the £200,000 mortgage borrowing into our calculator with a standard 25-year term and found the LibDems should have been paying just over £900 a month in mortgage repayments, yet Davey is claiming for over £1,000 a month towards rent. The rules state that for an office shared between party political and constituency work the costs should be apportioned to fairly reflect the dual use. So how is he is claiming not just a proportion of the property cost for rent, but more than the entire property costs to mortgage?
A quick browse of comparable local offices available to rent shows that Davey is charging taxpayers double the market rate for office space. The cash is being recycled from the taxpayer into party funds. There is no chance of the Energy Secretary or local LibDems going cold this winter either. Davey claims for the office’s gas and electricity bills on expenses as well.
With an MP’s constituency office rent expenses scandal coming, Guido can reveal the name of another shadow cabinet minister helping out his union mates with taxpayer cash. Shadow Welsh secretary Owen Smith has claimed up to £1,500-a-month in expenses to pay his constituency office rent. What is the address of his constituency office? That would be the subtly-named GMB House, on Morgan Street in Pontypridd. The GMB union can then effectively pay the £1,500-a-month of taxpayer cash back to Labour as part of their (soon to be reduced) £1.2 million donations to the party. Taxpayer funding of political parties and their donors through the back door. Expect many more of these in the coming weeks…
Next month the rental agreements for MPs’ constituency offices will be published, exposing just how many MPs are bunging taxpayer cash to trade unions and their local parties by claiming rent for properties they could have access to for free. Regular readers will be aware of the potential for troughing here…
It may not be for personal gain, but if the parties are taking money from the taxpayer in murky circumstances, that does not make it any better. Back in 2010 Sarah Teather’s back-door party funding was revealed in a Guy News investigation:
Unions are often major beneficiaries of rental trickery. Luciana Berger claims £1,750 per quarter for her constituency office rent, her office is the UCATT building in Liverpool. They’re donors…
Geoffery Robinson does the same for Unite:
This is a scam used by Labour MPs to, perfectly legally, funnel taxpayer cash to a donor who then gives money back to the party. Next month we will find out if the Tories are pulling an equivalent stunt; claiming taxpayers’ money to pay rent to a private donor, who then gave money back to the party, it would be a major scandal. Where there’s a rule to bend, there’s a will…
The good news is IPSA says MPs should no longer be able to claim for:
- A £15 evening meal when Parliament sits after 1930
- Hospitality tea and biscuits
- Hotels before 0100
- Taxis home before 2300
- Contents insurance for a second home
- Installing a TV in a second home
The bad news is they think that should come with a bribe of a £7,000 pay rise.
And surprise surprise, the troughers’ union – Kevin Barron’s morally bankrupt Committee on Standards – has rejected the expenses restrictions. How times change…
Labour are moaning about flexible working hours in the Commons right now.
Apparently working limited hours is very, very bad.
Unless you are an MP, of course…
Guido is looking forward to Lin Homer’s appearance in front of the Public Accounts Committee this afternoon. This £180,000 a year civil servant first hit the headlines in Birmingham with electoral practices “that would disgrace a banana republic.” Thence to positions running immigration where her “catastrophic leadership failure” resulted in a £20,000 performance bonus and a move to Transport where a disastrous franchise letting process costing £100m qualified her for the biggest executive job in the civil service – collecting the nation’s taxes as head of HMRC. Here, her “woefully inadequate” response earlier this year to a critical report was noted by the Public Accounts Committee. Next episode begins at 2.30.
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