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False Claim: British MPs award themselves extra £10,000 in expenses

Multiple Facebook posts (here, here) suggest UK Members of Parliament (MPs) awarded themselves an extra £10,000 in expenses in order to work from home during the coronavirus crisis.

This claim is false. In fact, an extra £10,000 has been made available by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) to MPs’ office costs budget, in order to cover the additional expenditure of setting up remote working for MPs and their staff as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak (here).

The posts were shared as an image on Facebook. Text is overlaid on a photo of Health Secretary Matt Hancock and reads: “NHS workers risking their lives refused any pay rise. MPs awarding themselves £10,000 extra expenses to ‘work from home’.” The reference to NHS pay likely relates to a 2017 amendment to the Queen’s speech proposing an end to a public sector pay cap. It was voted down in the House of Commons (here , here.

Members of Parliament have not had control over their expenses budget since 2010, when IPSA was established (here) as an independent body with responsibility for setting MPs’ salaries and expenses. On March 19, 2020, the IPSA informed MPs that it was implementing a series of measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak. These measures included a £10,000 increase to the office costs budget, an increase in the credit limit of MPs payment card to £10,000 from £4,000 (here) and changes to the claims process and the staff absence budget. The office costs budget can include computers, printers, postage, office furniture and utilities, and covers MPs and their staff. Office cost rules are set by the IPSA (here).

An IPSA spokesperson told Reuters: “Most MPs’ staff moved at very short notice from being based in Westminster, or in a constituency office, to working from home. Many staff were not set up for home working, nor for supporting constituents remotely. This additional funding is to help them make that transition, while they deal with a huge increase in workload from distressed constituents as a result of coronavirus issues.”

VERDICT

False: MPs cannot award themselves expenses, which are set by an independent body. An extra £10,000 has been allocated to each MP’s office costs budget in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact checking work   here.

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