All MPs get the same standard expenses to cover the cost of doing the job. That’s because we’re expected to be in London Monday to Thursday every week and because we need an office and some staff to help us get through all the work. And we need to buy some paper for the printer!
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, or IPSA, deals with this as an independent body separate from Parliament.
As an MP, IPSA gives me the following expenses (2017/18):
Staff Budget – £150,900
The staffing budget is largely made up of payroll costs, which are paid directly to the staff I employ to assist me in carrying out my duties in Westminster and in Bristol North West. The budget covers all payroll costs (salaries, employers’ national insurance contributions and pension contributions). It also covers pooled staffing services, staff training and expenses for volunteers. Staffing costs account for approximately three quarters of the total spend by an MP on average.
I employ four people in Bristol (one is part time) and one in London.
Office Budget – £24,150
The office costs budget allows me to buy everything I need to run my office and constituency surgeries – this includes costs such as rent, business rates, telephone bills, equipment and stationery.
I rent a serviced office for my staff in Westbury-on-Trym, which costs around £17,000 per year. The additional budget is used to pay for the use of community buildings for surgeries, and for things like the telephone bill and stationary for the office.
London Budget – £22,760
The London budget covers the cost of my accommodation in London. This is because I have to be in London for four days a week.
I rent a flat in London which costs £1,755 per month plus council tax of £130 per month. I pay for the utility bills from my own salary.
Bristol Budget – £0
I use my salary as an MP to pay for my living costs at home in Bristol.
IT Budget – £7,200
The IT budget is provided to MPs in their first year of office to buy their IT equipment for themselves and their staff.
I have used this budget in my first year in office to purchase laptops, keyboards/mice and screens for my staff and I, in addition to two combined printer/scanner/photocopier machines.
Start-up Budget – £6,000
The start-up budget is provided to MPs in their first year of office, covering the costs incurred in starting up a new office.
I used my start up budget to pay for my new website (£3,000), for additional IT for my staff which I couldn’t afford using my IT Budget and office start-up costs such as Contents Insurance.
In addition to the above budgets, my travel costs are covered for: (i) travel to and from Westminster; and (ii) within Bristol North West whilst doing my job as an MP. As these costs vary depending on when I travel, and how often I travel, these costs are published on a quarterly basis by IPSA.