Hampshire MPs told to hand back homes ‘profits’

PAY BACK Fareham MP Mark Hobban, left, and Havant MP David Willetts
PAY BACK Fareham MP Mark Hobban, left, and Havant MP David Willetts

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TWO HAMPSHIRE MPs have been told to hand back thousands of pounds worth of profits from taxpayer-funded homes.

Fareham MP Mark Hoban and Havant MP David Willetts have agreed repayment deals with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa)

The watchdog moved to ban the use of Commons expenses to pay mortgage interest in May 2010, in the wake of public fury over ‘flipping’ and other abuses.

However, transitional arrangements were put in place permitting MPs elected before 2010 to keep claiming the money up to last August - as long as they agreed to return any potential capital gain.

Some 71 MPs claimed almost £1m between them over the 15-month period but the majority were not asked to make repayments, because surveyors’ reports or sale prices showed that their properties had not gained in value.

However, 29 of them were asked to make payments to reflect the increased value of houses and flats - many of them in London, which had bucked the sluggish housing market prevailing in the rest of the country at the time.

Mr Hoban, the Conservative MP for Fareham claimed £17,247.40 in mortgage interest. He must repay £11,332.00.

Mr Willetts, the Conservative MP for Havant, claimed £2,912.00. He will pay back £7,730.74.

Neither MPs were available for comment when contacted by The News prior to publication.

Ipsa has said it would consider a longer repayment schedule - possibly extending to 2015 - if returning cash quickly would ‘create hardship’.

The process was delayed when a number of MPs signalled they were considering a legal challenge on the grounds that the watchdog had overstepped its powers.

Repayment deals are now thought to have been struck with 70 of the MPs, with only one case still to be settled.