IPSA regulates MPs expenses claims and their website is available here, but I wanted to explain the kind of things the expenses cover. I work hard to provide a value-for-money service and keep costs to the public down, but there are some unavoidable costs if I am to do my job properly. The main categories of expenses are:
The cost of staying in London
Whilst my main home is in Torfaen, like other MPs, I have to stay in London to represent my constituents in Parliament. Payments are made to MPs to pay for the costs of this, such as hotel bills, flat rental or the interest on a mortgage, plus things like council tax and utility bills for the flat. The maximum for Accommodation costs is £16,041.63, but in 2010/11 I claimed £8,052.88.
I run a constituency office to provide my constituents with a proper service if they need my help, or if they want to speak to me about a political issue. The Office costs allowance is used to fund that office. It covers things like rent, rates, phone bills and everything else needed to provide a service to constituents. My office is in Upper Trosnant Street, Pontypool and is open all-year round. I hold regular surgeries in my constituency. The maximum for these Constituency Office costs is £13,228.04, but in 2010/11 I claimed £6,616.14. The maximum for General Administration costs is £13,671.83, but in 2010/11 I claimed £9,774.42.
The Staffing Allowance is used to pay the salaries of members of staff to assist MPs in representing their constituencies. The money is paid directly from Parliament to them. I have four members of staff, who all work hard for the people I represent. None of them are related to me and the money in this allowance goes directly from IPSA to pay their salaries. The maximum for Staffing costs is £101,049.85, but in 2010/11 I claimed £90,666.27.