Yesterday IPSA published their review of the expenses scheme, with some very positive changes for staff that the union branch has been lobbying hard for over recent years. The full scheme is available here and IPSA’s summary of the changes is available here, but in terms of staff wins we are looking at:
- The Staffing Expenditure budget limit has been increased to £137,200 for non-London Area MPs and £144,000 for London Area MPs, incorporating a 5% supplement for London Area MPs to reflect higher salary ranges for staff based in London. IPSA’s Estimate is subject to approval by the Speaker’s Committee for IPSA.
- New and more flexible job descriptions for staff members will be available, and the redundancy package for staff on IPSA’s contracts has been doubled from the statutory minimum.
- Office cost and travel claims can now be made for staff members who live more than 20 miles from the constituency of the MP who employs them.
- The Winding-Up budgets have been increased to £56,250 for London Area MPs and £53,150 for non-London Area MPs.
- MPs’ staff can claim the cost of a railcard where it represents value for money on their parliamentary-related journeys.
These are much-needed changes and it is great that IPSA has responded to the concerns of our members and other MPs’ staff. We’ll be looking though the scheme in greater detail over the next couple of days so will keep you up to date with any more changes that may affect you.
In the meantime you can read branch Chair Max Freedman’s comments about the IPSA changes over at the UK Huffington Post:
Max Freedman, from the parliamentary branch of the Unite union, said he was “very pleased” by Ipsa’s decision which he said recognised workloads had increased.
“The last time a review of work being done was in 2007 and we’ve done survey’s that show workloads have increased,” he said.
Freedman told The Huffington Post UK that MPs were in greater demand from their constituents than in the past and therefore the pressures on their staff had grown, with many doing hours of unpaid overtime.
He said if adopted the amount of money available would mean an average increase of 3.5 members of staff per MP to four staff members per MP.
And he welcomed the recommendation that staff redundancy payments be effectively doubled. Working for an MP was a “stable job” Freedman said, but “it has particular periods of instability” – namely general elections.
The move follows the annual review of MPs’ allowances by Ipsa, set up in the wake of the expenses scandal to set, administer and provide independent scrutiny of claims.
Ipsa chairman Sir Ian Kennedy said the new expenses scheme was “stable and well established”.
He added: “Following the review we have made a significant move to help MPs to staff their offices more effectively. This will help them in the service they provide to their constituents.
“Through our public consultation, I have seen some great examples of the skill, commitment and professionalism that MPs’ staff offer.
“I think it is right for staff, MPs and indeed all people who look to their MPs for assistance, that we take these steps.”