MPs have been told they’re allowed to host Christmas dos at the taxpayer’s expense in an announcement that has sparked fury.
For the first time, politicians can ‘claim the cost of food and refreshments for an office festive event’ in their constituencies.
Lights, tinsel and Christmas trees can also be expensed, as new advice from The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority approves indoor ‘festive decorations’ and sending cards to residents.
But public money cannot be spent on alcohol, the guidance warns.
MPs have been ordered to carefully consider costs, as many Brits struggle to heat their homes and feed their children.
Their gatherings should ‘represent value for money, especially in the current economic climate’, a document designed to answer ‘frequently asked questions’ said.
MPs in London get £31,620 in their annual office costs budget, while those outside the capital are granted £28,570.
Costs including travel, accommodation and staff, rose to £138.6 million in 2021-22, Daily Mail reports.
Labour MP Jess Phillips has blasted the news saying ‘no one asked for this and no one I know will use it’.
Naming Ipsa ‘irresponsible’ in a post on Twitter retweeted by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, she said: ‘The guidance wasn’t made by MPs and yet we will be pilloried for it. I think it’s really irresponsible to issue this guidance as if MPs have been clamouring for it when I’ve literally never heard anyone do that.
‘I have a tree in my office we dust off every year and decorations (tinsel and baubles from Wilkos) that I paid for. We have home made decorations made by kids in a local school and some knitted fairy lights garland made by a lovely local knitting group (again which I paid for).
‘I will throw a Christmas party for my staff, it will be in my home where I will cook and pay for all of the food and drink.’
Former Brexit secretary David Davis also criticised the move, saying the expenses watchdog had ‘missed the mood of the age’.
The senior Tory told TalkTV: ‘I think it’s bonkers, frankly.’
Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds has suggested the expenses watchdog had been a ‘little bit naïve’ putting out such guidance.
He told Times Radio: ‘People have not been asking for this. I don’t think anyone will use it.
I donât know of a single MP who asked for this or intends to use it. It is totally inappropriate and I shall certainly not be taking it up. https://t.co/xckgWaar33— Chris Bryant (@RhonddaBryant) November 22, 2022
Just want to say no one asked for this, no one I know will use it. The guidance wasn’t made by MPs and yet we will be pilloried for it. I think it’s really irresponsible to issue this guidance as if MPs have been clamouring for it when I’ve literally never heard anyone do that. https://t.co/d1nIfuSZcC— Jess Phillips MP (@jessphillips) November 22, 2022
‘This is our regulator … the independent body that runs the MPs’ expenses system, which is a system for staff and rent of your office and all of that kind of stuff, you know, being a little bit naive, to be honest, because if they publish stuff like this, you will get a story like this.
‘I understand why people cover it in this way but I doubt anyone will be using it. People will not have been asking for it. And (maybe) Ipsa need to be a bit more savvy in terms of how they present what they’re doing on this.’
The news also came under fire from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, with a spokesperson saying ‘MPs already get a plum deal without taxpayer-funded office jollies’.
‘While businesses and households in their constituencies pay for parties out of their own pockets, politicians get to dip into the public purse. MPs who want Christmas bashes should foot the bill themselves’, said John O’Connell of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.
Metro.co.uk has contacted Downing Street for comment.
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