A few constituents have asked me about MP expenses during the coronavirus. Let me make absolutely clear, MP’s have not been awarded £10,000 extra pay. Clearly this would be a massive insult at a time when huge numbers of people across the country are struggling as a direct result of the crisis and if this was the case I would be the first person to label the situation as “disgraceful”. The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) which is independent of MP’s, without my knowledge decided to make an extra £10,000 office costs available to MP’s to facilitate the transition to home working and to help communicate key information relating to COVID-19 to constituents. The feeling being that many MP’s need to have access to certain IT equipment to continue to provide services to constituents at a time when many offices have been closed, printers, laptops etc. As it happens I will not be accessing this money, both myself and my staff already have adequate access to IT equipment to carry on providing the same level of service to constituents. There is a printer in my Ipswich office so if necessary we can go to the office print/scan. My view is that increasing the office cost allowance by £10,000 is a little unnecessary but it was a decision taken by others and is beyond my control all I can do is account for my own office expenses. I have to say though I strongly object to the way this has been portrayed in the media. Its irresponsible journalism pitting people against each other at a time when we should be coming together to support each other.
I appreciate MPs are held in pretty low regard by many but its slightly frustrating to be accused of pocketing thousands of pounds by people who as a result of questionable journalism don’t seem to be fully aware of the facts. Like other MP’s since the outbreak of the coronavirus I have seen a significant increase in the number of constituents contacting me for help and advice and my number one priority is making sure I do everything I can to support them.