Increase in MPs’ expenses claims in S Yorkshire and N Derbyshire - see what your MP claimed

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EXPENSES claims recorded by MPs in South Yorkshire, north Derbyshire and north Nottinghamshire rose by around one fifth in the last year, figures have revealed.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has released details of allowances claims made during 2011/12, compared with the 2010/11 year.

The large increase is mainly down to the parliamentary year being a full 12 months in 2011/12 whereas the 2010/11 year was for 10 because it included the general election period, during which MPs were not allowed to claim.

But The Star has calculated average claims per month, which show that 12 of the area’s 19 MPs have still recorded an increase on their average for the previous year.

Allowances are paid for the cost of running MPs’ offices, plus transport, subsistence and running a second home, either in Westminster or their constituency.

Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, representing Doncaster North, saw his average monthly claims increase by almost a third, while Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, representing Sheffield Hallam, put his claims up by over a tenth.

Mr Miliband’s claims rose by an average of 32.6 per cent a month, from £7,445.71 to £9,870.89.

Mr Clegg’s increased 11 per cent from £11,087 to £12,381.92.

But both MPs’ total claims were lower than several other MPs, reflecting the fact some of their costs are covered through their frontbench roles.

Mr Clegg’s spokesman said he has claimed ‘responsibly’, adding the figures do not show he repaid to the taxpayer almost £40,000 in profits from the sale of his constituency home. His new home in Rivelin is rented.

A spokesperson for Mr Miliband said: “Ed Miliband claims appropriate funds from IPSA to support his work representing his constituents in Parliament. He follows Parliamentary guidelines and is fully transparent in his claims.”

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts was one of three Labour MPs whose total claim was more than £160,000 in 2011/12, along with Barnsley Central’s Dan Jarvis and Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey.

Mr Betts said: “The totals for 2010/11 and 2011/12 are not comparable because the 2011/12 figures were for 12 months, compared with 10 months in 2010/11. The appropriateness of all expenditure is monitored by the independent body.”

Mr Betts’ average monthly claims increased by 2.6 per cent, one of the lowest rises by local MPs.

Overall, 12 of 19 MPs representing the area claimed more per month in 2011/12 than the previous year.

Six recorded a decrease, most significantly David Blunkett. The Brightside and Hillsborough Labour MP’s claims fell 9.1 per cent from an average of £13,158.99 per month in 2010/11 to £11,950.16 in 2011/12.

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis’s allowances cannot be compared on a per month basis because he was only an MP for a few weeks during 2010/11, having been elected in February 2011.

Others whose average monthly expenses fell were Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith, down five per cent, Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield, down 3.9 per cent, Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton, by 4.8 per cent, Don Valley MP Caroline Flint, by 3 per cent, and Bassetlaw MP John Mann, by 1 per cent.

PUBLIC CAN SEE FOR THEMSELVES EXACTLY WHAT THE MONEY HAS BEEN SPENT ON

MEMBERS of the public can search allowance claims by their MP and see for themselves what they have been claiming.

Bosses at the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority say the new approach is a break from the ‘bad old days’ after which some MPs were convicted of expenses fraud and jailed, most notably Eric Illsley, who represented Barnsley Central.

He received a 12-month prison sentence.

Sir Ian Kennedy, IPSA chair, said: “Information wasn’t available to the public. Then we had the series of increasingly shocking newspaper reports in 2009.

“Since then a new, independent organisation – IPSA- has taken control of the issue, setting clear rules and enforcing them. And, crucially, publishing all claims every other month.

“Also, once a year, we publish exactly what every MP has spent to do their job. You can see how much is spent on staff, on renting offices, on travel and so on. And you can also see if an MP employs a family member of other ‘connected party’.

“We have released this information for 2011/12. In short, we are delivering genuine openness – the kind of which was inconceivable just a few years ago. ”

He added: “There will be some who might say ‘this is too much ‘or ‘I could do it for less’. But we should look at the issue in more depth. MPs are there to represent us.

“If we want to be able to see our MP, contact their staff – and it is in on MPs’ staff where most of this expense goes, visit MPs’ offices, have them write to us, represent us in Parliament, and help us with problems in the constituency, we have to face the fact that there is a cost to doing so.”

* Visit www.parliamentary-standards.org.uk/AnnualisedData.aspx to view your MP’s claims.

WHAT THEY CLAIMED:

David Blunkett, Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough: £131,589.92 (2010/11), £143,401.99 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: down £1,208.83 (-9.1%)

Paul Blomfield, Sheffield Central: 126,575.20 (2010/11), £145,933.12 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: down £496.43 (-3.9%)

Nick Clegg, Sheffield Hallam: £110,878.05 (2010/11), £148,583.07 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: up £1,294.12 (+11%)

Meg Munn, Sheffield Heeley: £102,233.21 (2010/11), £127,146.58 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: up £372.22 (+3.6%)

Clive Betts, Sheffield South East: £134,027.07 (2010/11), £165,110.20 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: up £356.48 (+2.6%)

Angela Smith, Penistone and Stocksbridge: £133,737.78 (2010/11), £152,359.38 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: down £677.17 (-5%)

Dan Jarvis, Barnsley Central: £1,638.33** (2010/11), £160,591.42 (2011/12)

Michael Dugher, Barnsley East: £117,251.99 (2010/11), £149,773.40 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: up £755.92 (+6.4%)

John Healey, Wentworth and Dearne: £132,454.94 (2010/11), £161,725.64 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: up £231.64 (+1.7%)

Denis MacShane, Rotherham: £100,687.12 (2010/11), £125,680.64 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: up £404.67 (+4%)

Kevin Barron, Rother Valley: £118,284.72 (2010/11), £147,991.71 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: up £504.17 (+4.2%)

Caroline Flint, Don Valley: £111,635.36 (2010/11), £130,019.98 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: down £328.54 (-3%)

Rosie Winterton, Doncaster Central: £126,027.20 (2010/11), £143,929.54 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: down £608.60 (-4.8%)

Ed Miliband, Doncaster North: £74,457.13 (2010/11), £118,450.71 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: up £2,425.18 (+32.6%)

Natascha Engel, North East Derbyshire: £122,472.74 (2010/11), £148,755.48 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: up £149.02 (+1.2%)

Toby Perkins, Chesterfield: £115,074.71 (2010/11), £146,784.67 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: up £724.58 (+6.2%)

Dennis Skinner, Bolsover: £48,267.43 (2010/11), £58,732.05 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: up £67.59 (+1%)

Patrick McLoughlin, Derbyshire Dales: £106,732.21 (2010/11) £139,621.06 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: up £961.86 (+9%)

John Mann, Bassetlaw: £ 119,168.15 (2010/11), £141,485.04 (2011/12), difference in average claim per month: down £126.39 (-1%)

** Dan Jarvis only elected as MP from February 2011