MPs Seek Return to Days of Mortgage Payments on Expenses

Homeowners are likely to be spitting feathers at the news that the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) is considering awarding MPs a “lump sum” in expense payments and the right to keep claiming for the cost of the mortgage on their second properties. Reports this week said that the IPSA, which acts as a parliamentary watchdog, is thinking about overturning the ban on MPs clawing back the mortgage interest on their second homes a ban which was introduced following the 2009 MPs’ expenses scandal to restore “public confidence”. Under the current rules, new MPs are only allowed to claim expenses for rented properties or hotel rooms used for overnight accommodation in London or in their constituencies. If an MP already had a second home before the General Election last May, they will lose the right to claim back their mortgage interest next August. IPSA revealed this week, however, that it will be conducting a public consultation as to whether MPs should be allowed a more generous system for mortgage payments, claiming yesterday that although it still believes MPs’ expenses “should remain based on the reimbursement of costs incurred” supported by receipts, that “there remains a number of MPs who believe that there should be a return to lump sum allowances which would, amongst other things, allow MPs to continue to fund their mortgage interest”. The consultation is due to run until 20 January 2012, and also asks the public to give their views on whether MPs should be able to claim back mortgage interest beyond next August’s deadline. Given current public anxiety about jobs and their own mortgages, it seems unlikely that the MPs will get the positive result they are looking for. The previous IPSA survey on the subject found that 69 per cent of Britons were against allowing MPs to keep claiming for mortgages, “even if that arrangement would be cheaper for the taxpayer than renting a one-bedroom flat”.