Thurrock MPs could have second home allowance re-instated

Thurrock MPs could have their second home allowance reinstated in plans released by the expenses watchdog, reports the Essex Enquirer.

The allowance was scrapped for many local MPs at the last election after public outrage at members claiming expenses for a second property in London while living within a commutable distance of Westminster.

Currently MPs living in what is known as the ‘London Area’ are given a £3,760 allowance for travel expenses into the capital while other MPs living further afield are allowed a second home in London alongside their constituency home.

If the plans are approved it would mean Essex MPs could once again charge for a house within their constituency and another property in London.

The ‘London Area’ currently includes constituencies stretching as far as Castle Point and Billericay – but does not include Rayleigh, Wickford and Southend.

MPs affected include Brentwood & Ongar MP Eric Pickles, Barking MP Margaret Hodge, Basildon & Billericay MP John Baron, Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris, Chelmsford MP Simon Burns, Dagenham & Rainham Jon Cruddas, Romford MP Andrew Rosindell, Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price and South Basildon & East Thurrock MP Stephen Metcalfe.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, the body who set and approve parliamentary expenses, is under pressure to increase expenses after complaints from many MPs about unfair cuts to expenses.

In the consultation paper IPSA refer to cases in which MPs have slept in parliament offices to avoid claiming expenses for a hotel when the Commons sit late into the evening and they cannot get back to their constituency home – prompting the review of the ‘London Area’.

The IPSA are currently consulting the public’s view on the plans and will use any responses to amend the existing Expenses Scheme. A deadline of 11 February has been set for responses with the new Scheme being published in March 2011.

To respond to the review email schemeconsultation@parliamentarystandard.org.uk marking the email with the subject “Consultation Response” or write to Consultation Responses, Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, 7th Floor, Portland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5BH.

If you require a hard copy of the consultation paper you can request one by writing to the above address, or by emailing schemeconsultation@parliamentarystandard.org.uk.

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