POLITICS

Revealed: The Complaints MPs Lodge About Their Expenses

14/06/2013 10:54 BST | Updated 14/06/2013 11:05 BST

In the aftermath of the MPs’ expenses scandal, few politicians were brave enough to question the need for a change.

But now they are increasingly challenging the tough new regime rushed in after Parliament was shamed by tales of second-home flipping and duck-houses.

Since 2010, 36 MPs have lodged 71 official complaints with the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority about the way their claims have been handled.

The official complaints log, sent to The Huffington Post UK under the Freedom of Information Act, shows MPs were unhappy about “confusing” emails, being kept on hold, delays in processing claims and generally being “not pleased” with the service.

Other complaints were sparked when MPs were asked for evidence for their claims, and one member lodged a formal objection to not being allowed to claim for a trip to the Labour Party conference.

And it seems the grumblers may have a point – because Ipsa was found to be at fault in 31 of them, after paying MPs too much, delaying payment of claims, and taking too long to handle inquiries.

Ipsa was cleared of the blame in 18 cases, and the remainder was made up of MPs’ complaints about the rules.

The list of MPs who complained includes Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, and Lib Dem minister Norman Lamb.

Officials would not say which MP had lodged each complaint, saying it would be “likely to lead to a significant breakdown of trust” with members.

mps expenses

How should MPs' expenses be managed?

However, some MPs have already had very high-profile spats with the expenses body.

Tory Karl McCartney was revealed to have told one official they were "talking shite", and condemning another as a "pedantic SOAB".

McCartney said he had been forced to borrow £25,000 from his parents because Ipsa failed to process his claims on time.

Ipsa’s battle with another Conservative, Stewart Jackson, is heading for court after he challenged its demand for a £54,000 repayment on second-home profits.

Outspoken Tory Nadine Dorries has complained she is being targeted personally by Ipsa.

And an anonymous Twitter account, @Ipsa_watch, has been set up to “expose the lunacy”.

But Labour MP John Mann thinks his colleagues should stop complaining.

“There’s no perfect system,” he said.

“But people should stop objecting to being accountable.

“There’s an attitude there that we’re too busy to fill in detailed expenses forms – well don’t claim the money, then.

“I think it could be run more cheaply, but overall I am quite happy with it.”

The form-filling is “miniscule” compared to what small business-owner encounters, he added.

Ipsa said it handled 185,000 claims a year, which were, on average, reimbursed in less than 10 days.

A “thorough complaints procedure” was provided if MPs were unhappy, it said.