Members of Parliament can account for in-office birthday parties for taxpayers

<p> A watchdog has told MPs they can host Christmas parties at taxpayers’ expense.  Credit: Mark Hall/National World </ p>src=” jpg?width=640&quality=65&smart&enable=upscale”  data-srcset=” -MH%20%282%29.jpg?quality=65&smart&width=320 320w, party-expenses-explainer-MH%20%282%29.jpg?quality=65&smart&width=640 640w, -MPs-Christmas-party-expenses-explainer-MH%20%282%29.jpg?quality=65&smart&width=990 990w” data-hero=”” fetchpriority=”high”/></figure><figcaption class=

A watchdog has told MPs they can host Christmas parties at taxpayers’ expense. Credit: Mark Hall/National World

MPs have been told for the first time that they can charge taxpayers the costs of Christmas parties in their offices.

Under new guidance from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), MPs will be able to recoup money spent on festive ceremonies on their parliamentary expenses, meaning nothing claimed will be paid by the taxpayer.

IPSA explained that “hospitality” claims can be made for Christmas decorations (such as lights, tinsel, and tree), food and drink for a “festive event in the office,” printing and mailing seasonal cards, and a party in the constituency of Parliament. , if it is “within a parliamentary context”. Members of Parliament were expressly told that they could not use alcohol expenses, the holiday or New Year’s calendar, and any decorations outside their constituency offices.

The advice was reportedly issued in response to frequently asked questions about whether or not expenses could be used to cover festive celebrations. It comes as the expenditure watchdog also revealed that costs incurred by MPs rose to £138.6m last year, mostly due to higher staff costs.

MPs can claim the cost of food, drink and decorations – but not alcohol or anything that might be considered “self-promotion”. Credit: Getty Images

Ian Todd, Chief Executive of IPSA, said: “At IPSA, we believe in providing transparency to the public, and in making sure that the information we publish is accessible and meaningful.”

The move has already been criticized by some, with the Taxpayers Alliance saying that MPs “really got a peachy deal without the taxpayer-funded office ceremonies”. The organisation’s chief executive John O’Connell told MailOnline: “While businesses and families in their constituencies pay for parties out of their own pockets, politicians meddle with public money. MPs who want Christmas parties must foot the bill themselves.”

Nobody asked about this

Some politicians criticized the new directive and claimed that “nobody” asked for the rule change, telling voters they would not use the expenses to pay for the festivities.

Labor MP Jess Phillips wrote on Twitter: “I just want to say no one asked for it, and no one I know will ever use it. The guidance was not by MPs and yet we will be vilified for it. I think it is really irresponsible to issue these directives as If only MPs were calling for it while I literally haven’t heard anyone do it.”

She added that she uses the same Christmas tree in her office every year, uses home decorations made by children from a local school, and if she throws a party for the staff, she will be at her house and pay for all the food and drink.”oreign Secretary James Cleverly shared her tweet on his page.

Another Labor MP, Chris Bryant, echoed her thoughts – calling the new rule “totally inappropriate” and saying he “does not know of a single MP who has asked for it or intends to use it”, while SNP IPSA’s Stuart MacDonald called for the “unwanted” directive to be reversed. it globally.”

Meanwhile, social media users have criticized the move, with many citing the cost of living crisis as the reason why it is not welcome. One user called it a “disgrace”, another said it was “more than awful at a time when many families are struggling to afford decent groceries that make meals”, and a third directed the tweet at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, asking “Is this really the right message to send?” To the suffering public?”