The bill for MPs' expenses went up by a quarter to nearly £90m last year, it was disclosed on Thursday.
Politicians spent the money on second homes, staff, travel and office costs - including dozens of iPads.
The figure is now only slightly lower than in the run-up to the scandal that rocked Westminster in 2009.
But the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) insisted that the rate of claims had remained "stable".
Although the total outlay for 2010-11 had been £71m, that was misleading because of the impact of the general election.
Chairman Sir Ian Kennedy said "like for like" the rate of claims had been about the same last year, and 99% were within the rules.
"If we want a good service from our MPs, we have to fund them," he said. "And if you don't think you get a good service from your MP, the answer is not to withhold funding - it is to use your vote."
Altogether, the 650 MPs were handed £89.4m in 2011-12.
Some 50 iPads were purchased, along with a variety of Apple accessories.
In 2008-9 the total expenses bill was £95.4m, while in 2009-10 - the year abuses surfaced - the figure fell to £90.7m.