Taxpayer fumes at ‘grossly insensitive’ ruling on MP Xmas parties

Pensioner slams 'appalling' MPs for claiming expenses on parties

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The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has ruled the cost of staff Christmas parties organised by MPs can be reclaimed from taxpayer funds. IPSA has ruled that alcohol cannot be included in the hospitality claim, but the cost of food, drinks and festive decorations can be reimbursed. The new guidelines were reportedly unveiled in response to frequently asked questions on how MPs and their staff will be able to celebrate the Christmas period. The IPSA decision to further stretch taxpayer funds has been met with fierce backlash amid the cost of living crisis.

One LBC caller, Elaine from Sheffield, phoned in to the radio show to express her outrage at the new IPSA guidelines.

She told host Nick Ferrari: “I think this is the most grossly insensitive, appalling time that IPSA has done.

“Some people might actually have to go to food banks to get any kind of a Christmas dinner.”

She explained her own financial struggles after realising she was effectively being “taxed twice” on her pension payments.

Elaine said she had been in contact with her constituency MP about her own personal situation, and he had acknowledged that the cost pressures on her were “not fair”.

It is not just members of the public that have erupted over the new IPSA ruling as MPs have also rushed to condemn the “tone-deaf ” guidelines.

Anum Qaisar, the SNP MP for Airdrie and Shotts, said: “This is completely tone-deaf, especially during a cost of living crisis.

“MP staff are the backbone of our offices and it’s my delight to treat my team at Christmas as a gesture of thanks for all their hard work. IPSA should reverse this decision.”

Labour MP for Rhondda Chris Bryant said: “I don’t know of a single MP who asked for this or intends to use it. 

“It is totally inappropriate and I shall certainly not be taking it up.”

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IPSA detailed that alongside the cost of food and drink, “festive decorations” could be expensed to the taxpayer.

However, MPs were reminded to consider the financial hardship the country is facing and were informed that any claims “should represent value for money, especially in the current economic climate.”

Speaking on Talk TV, senior Tory backbencher David Davis said the decision to include Christmas parties in expenses claims was a “strange pick”.

He suggested the parliamentary watchdog had “missed the mood of the age” with its latest guidelines.

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Labour MP Jess Phillips tweeted: “I will throw a Christmas party for my staff, it will be in my home where I will cook and pay for all of the food and drink.

“Once again, I reiterate that there was no clamour for this from MPs and it’s stupid.”

Peter Grant MP suggested: “I wonder if IPSA could publish details of who asked for this? I certainly didn’t and I won’t be claiming.

“It would be wrong at the best of times and it’s ridiculous when many of our constituents won’t be able to afford any Christmas celebrations at all.”

The IPSA ruling comes in wake of the Chancellor’s autumn budget announcement in which he formally declared the country was already in a recession.

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