MPs To Buy Biscuits And Tea From Central Kitty
PRESS ASSOCIATION -- A central kitty is being set up to buy milk and biscuits for MPs after they complained the current system was too time consuming.
Senior officials from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) told angry politicians they were planning to bring in changes this autumn over the way low level claims were handled.
It follows repeated criticism from MPs that they are being forced to devote hours to their allowances since the system was overhauled in the wake of the expenses scandal.
Although records show they spend just an average of 15 minutes a week logged in to their online expenses accounts they insist that is not a true reflection of the work involved.
Scott Woolveridge, interim chief executive and accounting officer, insisted Ipsa was trying to develop reforms that would mean almost the only payment going through MPs' bank accounts was mileage costs.
That would be done by increased use of credit cards, direct payments and centralised purchasing systems for train tickets and small items.
He told the Public Accounts Committee: "We are looking at a range of options through the autumn to reduce the burden in areas such as train travel, where we are looking at a centralised procurement system and we will be doing the same in the autumn with constituency office supplies for things like milk and biscuits, low value items that take a long time to complete."
Mr Woolveridge admitted when Ipsa was first set up it struggled to deal with the sheer volume of inquiries from MPs and their staff.
The organisation still receives 100 phone calls a day, he said.
PAC chairwoman Margaret Hodge claimed that number should alert the organisation to the fact there was something wrong.