MPs claiming £millions to rent second homes
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Housing
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Over 250 MPs are claiming more in expenses to pay rent on their second homes than the maximum a normal person living in Westminster is allowed to claim in housing benefit.
According to campaign group Generation Rent, over £5 million in taxpayers' cash went on second homes for 335 MPs with constituencies outside of London in 2013.
Half claimed more than £1,675 a month in rent, whilst the biggest single claim was £2,467 a month. The average monthly rent for the typical, non-MP household in the capital is £1,300.
With the average monthly sum lavished by MPs on second homes in London much higher than the amount available to spend by the average citizen, Generation Rent has pointed out that last month a majority of politicians rejected measures to ban letting agent fees.
Generation Rent, which campaigns for the rights of tenants in the private rented sector, analysised MPs' expenses data for 2013, published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).
The campaign group found:
• The taxpayer spent £5,263,312 on renting second homes for 335 MPs in 2013.
• 254 MPs claimed rent expenses of more than £13,000 (£1,083 a month), the maximum a single housing benefit claimant in Westminster is eligible to claim.
• 201 MPs claimed rent expenses of more than £15,600 (£1,300 per month), the median rent in London across all households.
• 47 MPs claimed rent expenses of more than £20,100 (£1,675 per month), the maximum allowed by IPSA, which is meant to also include utility bills.
• Half of the MPs claimed rent expenses of more than £16,900 (£1,408 per month) – enough for a one-bed flat at the top of the market across the river in Lambeth or Wandsworth, and more than enough for a three-bed in Newham or Harrow, both an easy commute away on the Jubilee line.
• The highest rent claim was for £27,141 (£2,467 per month) by North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jr.
• 57 MPs sent taxpayers the bill for letting agent fees and paid an average of £200 for moving home and £97 for renewing their contract.
• Wrexham MP Ian Lucas claimed expenses of £482 to move home. While Lucas has subsequently voted to ban letting agent fees, 22 of the MPs who claimed them opposed a ban.
• 138 renting MPs voted against the ban on letting fees – 136 voted in favour.
Dan Wilson Craw, Generation Rent spokesman, said: “Just living in a rented house doesn’t make an MP an expert on private renting. Because it’s not their money they have no idea what it's really like to see half your income eaten up by rent, or scrimp together the fees involved in moving home. And because the allowance is so generous, they can afford the type of accommodation most private renters can only dream about.
“We don't object to the second home allowance, but if MPs realised how privileged they are compared to other private renters, they might finally take some action to improve a housing system that is failing millions.”