Watchdog apologises for telling MPs to claim expenses for Christmas parties

The watchdog in charge of MPs’ spending has apologized for telling MPs they could charge taxpayers for Christmas parties, leading to some politicians being ‘shamed’.

The independent parliamentary standards body (Ipsa) had been widely criticized for giving the green light amid a cost-of-living crisis.

MPs also complained that the watchdog gave the impression they had “yelled” to put food, refreshments and decorations for an office party at the expense.

We also failed to recognize public sentiment at a time of severe economic and financial pressuresIpsa CEO Ian Todd

Ipsa said that after the Christmas spending guidance was published, a number of MPs contacted them to say “they have never made such claims in the past and have no intention of doing so in the future.” “.

The chief executive of the regulator, Ian Todd, said: “We got the message wrong by giving the impression that this is what MPs wanted to do and not our interpretation of the discretion available under the existing rules .

“We are an independent body and make our own decisions, but like everyone, we occasionally make mistakes.

“I would like to apologize to MPs and their staff who have faced phone calls, emails and in some cases abuse as a result of our guidance. You did not author the manual or influence its content.

“When we published it, we also failed to recognize the public mood at a time of great economic and financial pressure. I’m sorry for that.”

Tory MP Maria Caulfield tweeted: “Welcome Ipsa’s clarification that MPs will not use public funds for Christmas celebrations.”

The leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, also welcomed Ipsa’s statement.

Ipsa’s initial guidance said MPs could claim the cost of “food and refreshments for a celebratory event at the office” as well as “celebratory decorations for their office” but “no claims for alcohol are admissible”.

On Tuesday, Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman told journalists: “The prime minister certainly has no intention of taking advantage of this and he believes MPs want to justify any spending to their constituents.”

Labor frontbencher Jess Phillips – in a post on Twitter retweeted by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly – said Ipsa had been “irresponsible”.

“I just want to say no one has asked for it, no one I know will use it,” she wrote.

“The leadership was not made by MPs and yet we are being pilloried for it. I think it’s really irresponsible to put out this guidance as if MEPs asked for it, when I’ve literally never heard anyone do it.”

https://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/watchdog-apologises-for-telling-mps-to-claim-expenses-for-christmas-parties-42171814.html Watchdog apologises for telling MPs to claim expenses for Christmas parties

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