MPs offered support of up to £10,000 to help with home working during coronavirus outbreak

PUBLISHED: 17:52 09 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:55 09 April 2020

MPs in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/House of Commons.

MPs in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/House of Commons.

HOC/JESSICA TAYLOR

MPs have been offered support of up an extra £10,000 to help themselves and their staff from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

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The extra budget can be used to buy equipment such as laptops and printers for themselves and staff, and will cover electricity, heating and phone bills, on top of the almost £26,000 per year allocated for their constituency offices.

MPs can refuse the offer and any spend must be accounted for using the usual protocols set by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority.

Richard Lloyd, the interim chair of IPSA, told MPs in a letter: “We have agreed a series of immediate measures that we hope will provide you with the resources and flexibility to concentrate on your parliamentary duties and support your staff at this time.

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“There will be an immediate increase of £10,000 to your office costs budget. ‘This is to cover any additional costs you may incur to set up working remotely as a result of coronavirus. This extra budget will be available until March 2021.”

However there has been concerns that it will be seen by the public as “crude”, if the full circumstances are not explained, especially after politicians continued to keep the level of statutory sick pay at £94.25 a week.

Recently health secretary Matt Hancock admitted he would not be able to live on the amount that the government paid.

Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the committee on standards in public life, told the Times: “I think the public may be slightly puzzled as to why what looks like a generous payment of this nature has been made without first doing a bit more research into what the actual costs are.”

An IPSA spokesperson said: “Most MPs’ staff moved at very short notice from being based in Westminster, or in a constituency office, to working from home. Many staff were not set up for home working, nor for supporting constituents remotely. This additional funding is to help them make that transition, while they deal with a huge increase in workload from distressed constituents as a result of coronavirus issues.”

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