Scandal of MPs who rent out London flats for a fortune as they put hotel bills on expenses
- Twenty MPs let out a property in the capital while also claiming taxpayers’ cash
- Some had claimed more than £40,000 for second homes or hotel expenses
- Dr Liam Fox lets his flat while claiming over £23k to rent a separate London home
Twenty MPs let out a London property while also claiming over £400,000 taxpayers’ cash for second homes or hotel expenses.
Some charge almost £34,000 of public money to live as tenants in the capital while also raking in cash from leasing out their own properties in the city.
Former defence secretary Dr Liam Fox lets his flat – a short distance from Westminster – while also claiming over £23,000 to rent a separate London home.
Twenty MPs let out a London property while also claiming over £400,000 taxpayers’ cash for second homes or hotel expenses
The landlord politicians were last night accused of ‘misusing public money’ by using a ‘loophole’ in parliamentary expenses rules introduced after the 2009 scandal.
MPs are now barred from claiming mortgage interest repayments on a property they own in the capital to stop them profiting on rising home prices at taxpayers’ expense.
But they are able to claim rental costs for homes in the capital even if they own a property in the city.
Fourteen MPs let a property in the capital for more than £10,000 a year and use the expenses to pay rent on a different home in the city.
Ex-attorney general Geoffrey Cox claimed £22,800 in accommodation expenses for the 2020/1 year despite having joint ownership of a residential property in London which is let for more than £10,000 a year.
Former defence secretary Dr Liam Fox (pictured) lets his flat – a short distance from Westminster – while also claiming over £23,000 to rent a separate London home
Tory Damian Collins had the highest claim for a London landlord MP also renting a home in the capital, at £33,880 during the same period.
MPs are granted different maximum accommodation allowances based on their number of dependants.
Sarah Dines, MP for the Derbyshire Dales, lets out a house in London, plus other properties outside the capital, while also claiming £6,137 in hotels in London.
Sir Alistair Graham, a former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, said: ‘It’s quite wrong to let out a flat and claim other flat or hotel expenses out of public funds.
‘They should know it’s a misuse of public money.’
He said the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which sets the rules, could ‘stop it overnight’.
But former minister and Tory MP Sir Desmond Swayne, who claimed £5,709 in hotels to stay in London despite letting a flat and house in the capital, accused the Mail of being ‘daft’ for highlighting the issue because the expenses were legitimately available to all MPs.
Ex-attorney general Geoffrey Cox (pictured) claimed £22,800 in accommodation expenses for the 2020/1 year despite having joint ownership of a residential property in London which is let for more than £10,000 a year
Before the expenses scandal, all MPs except those in inner London could charge mortgage interest on second homes in the capital.
The new system prevented this – but they were instead able to claim rent for a London property, which was often more expensive.
So unless MPs stayed in the London homes they already owned or were already buying, the effect was in many cases a bigger cost to the public purse.
Some MPs claimed they were forced into the situation because, when the Ipsa rules came in, they were in negative equity and so could not afford to sell their London properties and had to rent them out.
Ex-transport minister Sir Robert Goodwill claimed £19,257 for rent while also letting the London property he lived in before the rule change.
He said: ‘I am not sure I would call this a loophole as the decision to move out was forced on me by Ipsa changing the rules.’
A spokesman for Miss Dines said: ‘Any expense claims made have been in line with the Ipsa rules.’ Dr Fox, Mr Collins and Sir Geoffrey did not respond to requests for comment.
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