Yesterday there was plenty of attention on Ipsa, the MPs expenses watchdog, which was releasing all expense claims for September and October 2010 on its website.
More curiously, an eagle-eyed reader pointed out to us that many MPs are trying to pay their staff bonuses where they have not already used up their annual staffing allowance. Although bonuses are banned under the rules IPSA has not rejected the requests outright.
Instead it has issued surreal advice that it will consider requests for “temporary increase” in salaries as long as they don’t constitute bonuses. Nowhere does it accept that the two things are one and the same.
Bear in mind that a large proportion of MPs staff are spouses, partners or family members. UPDATE: In fact 127 MPs hire family members, according to this website.
Here is the advice:
We have been asked whether MPs can request a temporary increase in their staff’s salaries, if they are under the budget limit for staffing expenditure. The Staffing Expenditure Budget is not an allowance and cannot be used to pay for bonuses. Trying to use a temporary increase in salary to provide end of year bonuses to staff is not in accordance with the Expenses Scheme.
Applications for any temporary increase in salary will need to be accompanied by a declaration that it does not constitute a bonus payment and that the application is within the rules. You may like to note that the current consultation includes a discussion of whether any other methods of rewarding exceptional performance are appropriate.