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Members of Parliament (MPs) have been reimbursed for almost £300,000 in energy and utility bills for their secondary residences in the past year, according to a recent analysis conducted by The Independent.
The campaigners stated that the current high number demonstrates that British politicians are shielded from the effects of the rising cost of living. They receive a significant amount of financial assistance for their energy expenses, while millions of people struggle to afford their bills.
Several high-ranking officials, including Suella Braverman, James Cleverly, Alex Chalk, Victoria Prentis, Alister Jack, and James Heappey, have reported expenses for gas and electricity at their secondary residences.
An examination of figures from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) revealed that Members of Parliament (MPs) made claims for gas, electricity, and water totalling £292,000 in the fiscal year 2022-23.
This reflects a notable rise from the previous year’s total of £253,000 for MPs’ utility bills, due to the significant increase in gas and electricity prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
Ruth London, founder of the Fuel Poverty Action campaign group, said the expenses figures showed that MPs “live in a different world from most of the people they are paid to represent”.
The activist stated: “As an increasing number of individuals struggle to afford their energy bills, this gap continues to widen. Statements suggesting that the situation is improving do not provide any relief when in actuality, it is only becoming more dire.”
Elected officials who represent areas outside of London have the privilege of claiming utility expenses for one of their residences, regardless of whether it is located in the city or their constituency.
According to The Independent’s examination, members of parliament have received over £1 million to cover utility expenses for their secondary residences in the last four years.
Ms Braverman has reported the highest expenses among all current ministers during the four-year timeframe. As the previous home secretary, she has billed the public for £10,280 in gas and electricity expenses since the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
According to records, Mr. Cleverly, the foreign secretary, has used expense funds to cover over £6,550 of his energy bills since 2019-2020. Similarly, Mr. Chalk, the justice secretary, has claimed £3,735 for utilities at his second residence.
During her time as Prime Minister, Liz Truss refused to implement a windfall tax on energy companies and stated that she did not support it. However, she claimed £3,220 for energy bills at her home in Norfolk through expenses.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock has been one of the highest spenders on utilities since 2019 – racking up taxpayer-funded fuel and water bills of £9,380 at his constituency home.
Several high-ranking members of the Labour frontbench, including Angela Rayner, Ed Miliband, Liz Kendall, Louise Haigh, Hilary Benn, Nick Thomas-Symonds, and Pat McFadden, have submitted similar expense claims.
Ms. Rayner, the vice-leader of the Labour party, has requested reimbursement for over £4,000 in utility expenses for her residence in London over the last four years. Mr. Miliband, the shadow secretary for climate change, has charged just above £2,600 to the public funds during this time frame.
Simon Francis, the leader of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, stated that while members of Parliament are not affected by the high cost of energy bills, their constituents have seen a significant increase in their electricity and gas prices over the past couple of years.
The speaker requested that Members of Parliament assist in fixing the flawed energy system in Britain. He encouraged them to support initiatives that would alleviate debt from utility bills and enhance the energy efficiency of rental properties.
John O’Connell, CEO of the advocacy group TaxPayers’ Alliance, stated that even though energy prices are decreasing, MPs are still protected from consistently high costs that taxpayers are ultimately responsible for.
Mr O’Connell urged parliamentary officials to assess if the expense regulations for second homes are excessively generous.
Although water bills have remained consistent, the expenses for gas and electricity for MPs have significantly increased in the last year. The amount charged to taxpayers for energy bills went up from £195,000 in 2021-22 to £241,000 in the previous year.
The Independent has reached out to the Members of Parliament mentioned in this article for their response.