- Luke responds after untrue rumours that MPs are receiving £10,000 for working from home
- All money spent must be accounted for with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA)
- This money cannot be donated to any organisation, including the NHS
- Luke is Plymouth’s lowest-cost MP
A number of people have contacted Luke asking about rumours that MPs are receiving £10,000 for working from home and asking that this money is donated to the NHS instead.
All the costs of running Luke’s office are reported to IPSA (The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority). IPSA set MPs pay without the involvement of MPs. They also set the budget available to MPs to hire staff; the budget for equipment including IT; and the budget to pay office bills. All Luke’s office costs are published by IPSA on a regular basis.
Last year the Herald reported Luke was the lowest cost MP in Plymouth in their review of the office cost publications.
“I have received a number of emails from people I represent asking for some clarity on the news around the additional £10,000 provided for MP’s office costs.
The first point to make is that this is not money which comes to me or any of my staff’s pockets in pay. In compliance with the Government guidance, all MPs have moved their staff to continue supporting people in their constituencies but working from home. My team are continuing to support people and we have seen the amount of cases triple in recent week that we are being asked to help with because of the virus. I want to thank my team for all their hard work. My offices in Westminster and Plymouth have closed and all my team are working from home. This provides some challenges around both the health and safety of staff and the security of data.
IPSA have provided this additional funding to be used, if needed, to provide staff with appropriately encrypted IT to allow them to continue working with people’s sensitive data and to provide additional equipment they may need to work safely in their homes. This is what many employers are doing to ensure their staff can carrying on working and do so safely.
All of these costs will be processed and published as with any other costs for employing my staff and running an office to support and represent the people of Plymouth. I have used some of this budget to purchase laptops that enable my team to work from home. The costs will be published in due course.
MPs can only use the money to buy equipment that enables them and their teams to fulfil their job as a Member of Parliament. All costs have to first be incurred and then billed back to IPSA. There is not a pot of money that MPs have been given. This means that it would not only be illegal to give the money away it would also be impossible as MPs do not have the money in the first place.
As an MP I have raised and continue to raise the funding crisis in our NHS and social care. I have strongly opposed cuts made by the Government to our public services over many years and have not voted for cuts, unlike Plymouth’s other MPs. I am vocally calling for more support for our frontline including provision of PPE for the NHS, social care and other frontline workers. I want to thank my team for their hard work at this very difficult time and for the support they are providing to the people I represent.”
Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, said:
“It is wrong to characterise this extra £10,000 allocated by IPSA as MPs giving themselves additional funds. On the contrary, this money is being used to enable MPs’ staff to set up home working to support distressed constituents at a time of crisis. Many MPs have seen their casework soar as a direct result of coronavirus.
“Enabling staff to work remotely is the best and the safest way for them – and the constituents they are in contact with – to communicate and work together during these difficult times. The additional budget is there to draw down on if it is needed and required – and it will have to be accounted for in the usual way.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can MPs take this money for themselves?
No. This is a budget that MPs have a choice to access to enable their teams to work from home. It is not a cash payment nor is it available as additional pay.
Can this be given to the NHS?
No. This is a budget that MPs have a choice to access to enable their teams to work from home. It would be illegal and impossible to donate this money to the NHS or any other group. That doesn’t mean MPs cannot campaign for more money for the frontline, which is something Luke has done since being elected.
Are MPs on holiday?
No. Luke and his team are working to scrutinise the Government, propose alternatives and help people with their problems. The number of requests for help have tripled since the virus outbreak started and so it is taking Luke and the team longer to reply to everyone but everyone will get the help they need.
Why are MPs not being fuloughed?
MPs and their teams are continuing to work and help their constituents. Parliamentary business is being conducted using IT and on a digital basis. However, even if this was not the case the Government’s job retention scheme is not available to those who work in the public sector – like MPs and their teams.
Where can I see the costs incurred by my MP?
All pay, office costs and staff costs are published by IPSA on their website. You can read Luke’s entry here.
Do MPs set their own pay?
No. MPs are not involved in setting their pay. This is done by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority without involvement of MPs. IPSA also set the pay for MPs staff and their office cost budgets.