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As millions prepare for their fuel bills to double this year, MPs will be protected from the soaring costs.
That is because those who represent seats outside London can claim back the cost of their electricity and gas on expenses.
No fewer than 316 MPs put in utilities claims in 2020-2021, with dozens claiming more than the average household’s dual fuel tariff of £1,138.
Analysis of data published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) shows that claims for utilities totalled £262,454 in 2019-20, of which £206,717 was for gas, electricity and other types of fuel.
Top claimant: Tory MP Danny Kruger with his mother Prue Leith
So how much cash can our MPs claim?
Despite years of reforms, MPs still enjoy a generous expenses system. Those who represent seats outside the London area – and don’t get grace-and-favour flats – can claim back housing costs.
They can either choose to stay in hotels when they are working in Parliament, rent a flat in the capital – or put in bills for their homes elsewhere in the country. MPs who claim costs for their own homes can claim up to £5,480 a year for utility bills, council tax, service charges, phone lines and internet connections.
Those who rent in London have an annual budget of £23,290, including utilities as well as rent, while outside the capital it is £16,320.
Because Covid meant fewer MPs staying away from home, the following year the figures fell to £234,181 for all utilities and £182,983 excluding water.
Dennis Reed of the campaign group Silver Voices said: ‘This is a hideous example of how politicians feather their own nests, while those who they are supposed to serve and protect, suffer.
‘While pensioners are supposed to put up with a cut in living standards because those self-same politicians voted to suspend the triple lock, the taxpayer is footing the bill for them to heat their second homes.
‘Senior citizens will be outraged at this egregious example of “one rule for us” and one for the plebs – £3,000 per year is nearly half a year’s state pension.’
Darwin Friend, policy analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘With household bills rocketing and the tax burden approaching a 70-year high, people will rightly be concerned that their hard-earned cash is being used on insulating MPs from the cost of living crisis.’
Although they can no longer claim mortgage payments, MPs can recoup thousands a year for council tax, phone lines, broadband and necessities such as heating and water.
The largest individual utilities bill was submitted by Tory MP Danny Kruger, son of TV chef Prue Leith. He claimed for £3,598 in 2020-21 in six separate claims for electricity at a rented constituency home in Wiltshire. The previous year he had only claimed £791.
A spokesman for Mr Kruger said: ‘Danny challenged the energy bills repeatedly with the provider as they were clearly very high, although within the budget set by Parliament. He was unable to get the bills reduced. He has since moved constituency home and his bills this year are considerably lower.’
Next highest was Liam Byrne, the Birmingham Labour MP famed for leaving a note admitting ‘I’m afraid there is no money’ in the Treasury. He claimed £3,535 last year in 12 separate invoices marked ‘dual fuel’.
The previous year he claimed £5,105, of which £1,356 was for water, and in 2018-19 he claimed £2,086 for electricity alone. Mr Byrne declined to comment, but it is understood that he is attempting to obtain a rebate.
Several MPs are known to have challenged estimated bills they received during lockdown when power companies did not send out meter readers. Third-highest was North Dorset Tory Simon Hoare, whose bills totalled £3,252 in 2020-21, and £3,967 the previous year. Next was Labour frontbencher Yasmin Qureshi, who claimed £2,967 last year and £2,396 before that.
Neither of them responded to requests to comment.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock claimed £2,588 last year for heating oil at the Suffolk home where he lived with his wife, and their three children, before he left her for an aide last year.
Edward Leigh’s Lincs home
Mel Stride’s Devon home
A spokesman said: ‘Matt’s constituency home in Suffolk is off grid, so it is heated by oil, which is often more expensive than gas.’
Virginia Crosbie, a former banker who is now a Tory MP, claimed £2,634 last year. She said: ‘I was living and working on Anglesey during the lockdown in 2020 with my husband and three children. My home is an old farmhouse. I stopped claiming for utilities at the beginning of the 2021 financial year.’
Tory grandee Sir Edward Leigh claimed £2,332 last year and £2,474 the year before.
Welsh farmhouse: Conservative former banker Virginia Crosbie
He said: ‘I have one of the lowest claims of any East Midlands MP as I do not claim any rent or for hotel stays. I live in a remote rural area where we have to rely on heating oil.’
Tory MP Mel Stride claimed £2,347 last year. His office said the claim included water as well as energy, and covered 15 months rather than 12.
Attorney General Suella Braverman claimed £2,018 in 2020-21, following £2,684 worth of bills the previous year. She did not respond to requests to comment.
A spokesman for IPSA said: ‘Non-London MPs have an accommodation budget to help to cover the cost of somewhere to stay. It can cover rent and bills. If an MP owns the second property, they cannot use the budget for mortgage payments or rent, but they can claim a proportion of utility costs.’
Source: Daily Mail