South Tyneside MPS vow not to claim Christmas party on expenses

South Tyneside’s MPs say they will not be claiming the cost of a staff Christmas party on expenses.

Parliamentary watchdog the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has come under fire after it told MPs that they can bill the taxpayer for the cost of food and drink for Christmas staff parties – although not alcohol.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck said she had no idea why the authority had made an announcement that no-one had asked for and which was only likely to stir up feelings towards MPs when times were tight.

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Asked if she would be claiming, she replied: “I will certainly not be doing so.

"I am at a loss as to why IPSA have done this, I don't know a single MP who has asked for this,” she added.

“At a time when abuse towards MPs is heightened, this will only exacerbate that abuse.”

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Her Jarrow colleague Kate Osborne also criticised the decision: “IPSA’s new guidance that would allow MPs to claim the cost of food and refreshments for Christmas parties is completely inappropriate – even more so during Conservatives’ cost-of-living crisis,” she said.

“I welcome the news that John Cryer MP, chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party, will be writing to IPSA to urge them to reconsider this guidance.”

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Jarrow MP Kate Osborne

The IPSA announcement brought about a rare show of unity from Labour and Conservatives when opposition frontbencher Jess Phillips – in a post on Twitter retweeted by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly – said it had been ‘irresponsible’.

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“Just want to say no one asked for this, no one I know will use it,” she said.

“The guidance wasn’t made by MPs and yet we will be pilloried for it. I think it’s really irresponsible to issue this guidance as if MPs have been clamouring for it when I’ve literally never heard anyone do that.”

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South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck says she will not be claiming the cost of a staff party on expenses
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The guidance, first reported by the Daily Mail, says: “MPs can claim the costs of food and refreshments for an office festive event under the discretion allowed as ‘hospitality’.

“As with all claims, value for money should be considered and all claims will be published in the usual manner.

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“No claims are allowed for alcohol.”

MPs can also claim the cost of ‘festive decorations for their office’, Ipsa said.