Throughout the pandemic Luke and his team have continued working, replying to correspondence, campaigning and helping people with their problems and issues. The office in Frankfort Gate has been closed in accordance with advice from the Speaker of the House of Commons and as a result Luke and his team have been working from home.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) are responsible for the regulation and payment of office costs to Members of the House of Commons. As a Member of Parliament, Luke receives office costs to cover the costs of running an office, employing staff, having somewhere to live in London, and travelling between Plymouth and Parliament.
Luke Pollard MP said:
“When I was elected I said I wanted to do politics differently and I’m proud to be the first Plymouth MP to have an office in our city centre. Having an office in the heart of our city provides better access and a flexible service that people in our city need today.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, my team have been working from home. In Westminster, I have been supported to carry out my duties as Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary, including leading the Officials Opposition’s response to the Environment Bill, the Fisheries Bill and the Agriculture Bill. I have held the Environment Secretary to account at DEFRA Oral Questions in the House of Commons five times, mentioned Plymouth 29 times in Parliament since March 23, making sure Plymouth’s voice is heard and tabled 312 Written Parliamentary Questions since March 23, asking the government difficult questions on its pandemic response.
It is not just my Westminster team who have been working hard. Despite not being in the office to meet with people face-to-face, my team in the Plymouth office have been working incredibly hard to ensure people continue to receive the support they need around benefits, housing, asylum and many other issues. My casework team have opened a staggering 14,846 cases since the start of the pandemic, seen the amount of casework triple and the complexity of need increase.
Last year, IPSA allocated an additional £10,000 budget to each MP’s office to support home working for staff. I have accessed some of this funding to support my team work from home and continue to support people in Plymouth. It is important to be open and honest about what MPs spend taxpayers’ money on, and why it is important. As an employer, I have to consider the individual needs of each of my team and ensure they have the necessary equipment to be able to do their job well from home. I know the people I represent will understand that I will not be commenting on funding provided to support any particular accessibility need for members of my team.
As a responsible employer, I have a duty to ensure that my team are able to work remotely, remain safe and continue to support Plymouth people during this challenging time.”
Below are details of purchases made from the COVID-19 budget:
4 laptops costing a total of £4252.90 – to enable Luke’s team to work from home, as most were using desktop computers in the office. Staff who already had laptops have continued to use these remotely.
2 desks and 4 desk chairs costing a total of £372.94 – to enable Luke’s team to work from home safely and adhere to Health & Safety Executive guidance on workplace seating.
3 additional screens costing a total of £269.97 – in recognition of guidance around Display Screen Equipment, all staff were given the option of a larger screen.
A mobile phone costing a total of £221.99 – in order to allow Luke’s team to make calls from home whilst the office phone is diverted to voicemail. Most staff have preferred to use their personal mobile phones where they have access to unlimited calling minutes. This cost includes the purchase of a mobile phone and the cost of a £8 minutes bundle since April.
Stationary costing £35.98 – to ensure that staff have access to everything they need to work from home without additional cost to them, where they would have had access in the office.
Miscellaneous equipment costing a total of £142.47 – this amount has included wrist rests and computer equipment. As a responsible employer, it is important that Luke takes into account the accessibility needs of all staff to ensure they are able to work safely and comfortably.
Software costing a total of £129.51 – this is the cost of Luke’s Zoom account since April. This enables him to continue meeting residents virtually and has allowed him to hold numerous events, roundtables, constituency surgeries and Lunch with Luke meetings, as well as meet virtually with key stakeholders in Plymouth and Westminster.
All of Luke’s office costs are published transparently online on the IPSA website. You can also read about them on the theyworkforyou.com website alongside Luke’s Parliamentary activities.
Figures correct as of 4 February 2021.