POLITICS

Iain Duncan Smith Had Expenses Credit Card Suspended By MPs Watchdog

01/07/2015 14:00 BST | Updated 01/07/2015 14:00 BST
Ian Nicholson/PA Archive
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith unveils radical proposals to reform the UK's "antiquated" benefits system at the Bromley by Bow Centre, east London.

Iain Duncan Smith had his expenses credit card suspended after running up debts of more than £1,000.

The Work and Pensions Secretary, who last year called for people on welfare to be given prepaid cards to stop “destructive habits”, was one of 15 MPs who had their cards suspended due to outstanding payments.

The former Tory leader was one of 19 MPs to fail to provide evidence his spending was genuine before the monthly cut-off points.

Mr Duncan Smith had his card reactivated after the debt was cleared.

The details came to light after the Press Association filed a Freedom of Information request to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

The news organisation asked for details of any expenses cards blocked by IPSA since the beginning of the year.

A spokesperson for IPSA said: “An MP may owe an amount to Ipsa for many different reasons, and the fact that an amount is owed does not, in itself, indicate any misuse of the MPs' Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses.”

“As part of our credit management programme, MPs are sent financial statements detailing their monthly position with Ipsa. Where MPs have amounts owed to Ipsa, action is taken to recover these amounts.”

Last year, Mr Duncan Smith told the Tory party conference he wanted to introduce prepaid cards to tackle “problem debt”.

He said: “I have long believed that where parents have fallen into a damaging spiral – drug or alcohol addiction, even problem debt, or more – we need to find ways to safeguard them – and more importantly, their families, their children, ensuring their basic needs are met.

“That means benefits paid, I always believe, should go to support the wellbeing of their families not to feed their destructive habits.

“To that end, conference, today I can stand here and announce to you that I am going to start testing prepaid cards onto which we will make benefit payments so that the money they receive is spent on the needs of the family, finally helping I believe to break the cycle of poverty for families on the margins.”

While Mr Duncan Smith had his card suspended once this year, The Huffington Post UK has learned IPSA incorrectly sent emails to him claiming he still owed them money for May’s expenses.

IPSA apologised for “an error on our systems” which led to MPs being sent the email warning despite submitting their claims properly.

Mr Duncan Smith has been told that his card has not been switched off “and is in full working order”.

Other MPs to have their cards blocked included Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves, who owed 4,033.63, ex-Lib Dem Justice Minister Simon Hughes - £826.56 – and Health minister Ben Gummer, who owed £1,290.07.

All debts have now been cleared.

Here is the full list:

Ben Gummer: £1,290.07

Brian Binley: £575.02

David Willetts: £1,172.05

Debbie Abrahams: £2,586.90

Eric Joyce: £12,919.61

Iain Duncan Smith: £1,057.28

Ian Liddell:Grainger: £1,023.94

Ian Paisley: £6,195.94

Jack Dromey: £1,328.46

John Woodcock: £1,756.13

Mark Lancaster: £600.00

Mike Crockart: £720.64

Pamela Nash: £6,929.29

Paul Farrelly: £213.00

Rachel Reeves: £4,033.63

Simon Danczuk: £3,645.67

Simon Hughes: £826.56

Stephen Gilbert: £2,925.76

Toby Perkins: £693.30