Hampshire MPs justify decision to claim back utility bills

EXPENSES From left, MPs Penny Mordaunt, Caroline Dinenage and David Willetts
EXPENSES From left, MPs Penny Mordaunt, Caroline Dinenage and David Willetts
Portsmouth Port. Photo by Chris Pearsall

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LOCAL MPs have defended their decision to claim the cost of their energy bills on expenses.

Figures from The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, which regulates MPs’ expenses, show they’ve clawed back large sums of money they’ve spent at their second homes in London.

While there is no suggestion any rules have been broken, it comes at a time when families across the area are struggling to make ends meet.

Between April last year and March this year, Havant MP David Willetts claimed £2,596 back for his utility bills – £814 on electricity and £1,782 for gas – more than any other MP locally.

He also got back £1,833.43 for his council tax.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt got £184.54 for electricity and £902.76 for council tax.

Fareham MP Mark Hoban was given £69 for his gas bill and Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage got back £363.30 for her electricity use.

Independent MP Mike Hancock, who represents the south of Portsmouth, and Meon Valley MP George Hollingbery, did not claim.

Mr Willetts said: ‘This is done within strict rules. We all comply with them. This has to be done within a framework covering the cost of living in two places.’

Asked why he couldn’t commute to meetings from his home in Fareham, Mr Hoban said: ‘The House of Commons on a Monday sits from 10am to 10.30pm – so it’s a long day. There have been extensive consultations on what MPs can claim. That decision is not taken by MPs, it’s set by an independent body.’

The basic annual salary for an MP is £66,396, and they get expenses on top of that.

Meanwhile, Advice Portsmouth, a service that helps people with debt problems, is taking up more and more cases.

Nicola Youern, chief executive officer of The You Trust, which runs the service, said: ‘At Advice Portsmouth, we are seeing more and more people who are struggling to pay their utility bills.’