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, equipment and a small team of staff to help us with all the work.
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 budget (2020/21):
Staff Budget – £177,550
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, services commissioned from external organisations, 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 full time and three part-time), two full time researchers in Westminster and at certain times of the year provide paid internship opportunities too. When I have budget capacity in a given year, I commission third party services to get formal feedback from constituents about the quality of our service delivery to help highlight potential improvements.
Office Budget – £25,910
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, contents insurance, my website and stationery.
I rent a serviced office for my staff in Bristol North West, which costs around £17,000 per year. Additional budget is also used to pay for the use of community buildings for surgeries and events.
London Budget – £33,880
The London budget covers the cost of accommodation in London. MPs are allowed to rent a base in London because we have to be in Westminster generally four days a week. This budget covers rent, utilities and council tax. MPs who have children get additional budget so there’s enough room for families who travel between London and their constituencies as a family unit.
I rent a flat in East London (Zone2/3 border) and have enough rooms for my two children, as well as my wife and I, for when we’re in London together during the week. This means my accommodation costs will look high compared to, for example, other Bristol MPs, all of whom live by themselves when in London.
Bristol Budget – £0
I use my salary as an MP to pay for all of my living costs at my home in Bristol.
Travel Budget – £Variable
In addition to the above budgets, my travel costs are covered for: (i) travel to and from Westminster; (ii) within Bristol North West whilst doing my job as an MP; and (iii) to other locations around the UK and/or Europe where visits are part of prior approved Parliamentary business.
As these costs vary depending on when I travel, and how often I travel, these costs are published on a quarterly basis by IPSA.
This budget covers car fuel, parking costs and any rail or air fare that I incur that is for my parliamentary duties but which isn’t covered by a select committee or official body in parliament (such as the commonwealth, for example).
The travel budget is also available to staff (for travel between Bristol and Westminster, when required, and for travel costs associated with