MPs angry at being asked to 'slum it' in university accommodation

MPs could be forced to "slum it" in student style accommodation under new plans being considered by the expenses watchdog.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) have listed a number of potential ways to crack down on second-home allowances, including the possibility of MPs being housed in special "serviced accommodation" similar to halls of residences.

"Slumming it"

MPs have reacted angrily to the proposal, with one MP telling the Daily Mail:

"What they really mean is forcing us to slum it in university-style blocks which would be completely unacceptable."

That's right. This (unnamed) MP was outraged at having to live like a student in high-end, fully serviced student-style accommodation, without having to pay rent for it.

Picture of student accommodation in London, via Padsforstudents.

The MP went on to compare the proposal to segregation, because s/he had clearly lost all sense of perspective by that point:

"What are they going to do? Segregate us into different blocks according to party colours: Cameron’s lot in Tory Towers and Corbyn’s camp at Labour Lubyanka?"

IPSA insisted their proposals would result in ‘substantial’ savings for the taxpayer.

Security risk

Image of Tory MP Charles Walker, who opposes the proposal, via the Telegraph.

Senior Tory Charles Walker, who sits on the Ipsa committee, said the idea of special residential blocks for MPs as unworkable and a security risk, and added that MPs took a second home in London out of necessity, not as an added benefit to the job:

‘The suggestion that MPs are somehow deriving a personal benefit from being separated from their families for 200 days a year is ridiculous.’

He went on to say there was no further scope for ‘paring back accommodation arrangements for MPs’.

MPs currently claim £6.6 million for rent in capital

Under current Ipsa guidelines MPs can claim up to £20,600 a year for rent and a maximum rate of £150 a night if they stay in a hotel. Last year MPs with constituencies outside London spent £6.6 million on hotels, rentals and "associated costs".

Earlier this year an investigation found forty six MPs have claimed expenses for London rent or hotels despite owning a taxpayer-funded property in the capital. In 2012 The Daily Telegraph found that 27 MPs were claiming taxpayer-funded expenses to rent homes in London while simultaneously letting property in the capital.

Other options for reducing MP expenses by Ipsa include retaining the current arrangements but cutting the overall budget or discontinuing the accommodation allowance, expecting MPs to fund their own accommodation from their £74,000 annual salaries.

Expense abuse

Ipsa have been looking into ways to crack down on abuse of second home allowances since the expenses scandal in 2009.

Bizarre expense claims investigated back then included £1,645 for a "floating duck island" by Tory Sir Peter Viggers, £43.56 claim by Tory MP James Arbuthnot for a garlic peeling set, and a 55p claim for a mug of Horlicks by (you guessed it) Tory MP Andrew Selous.

David Heathcoat-Amory literally claimed £380 for horse shit (or "manure") and was asked to repay £29,691.93 for this and other expenses claimed.