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MPs who are sacked by the electorate at the election, and those voluntarily standing down ahead of next year’s crunch poll, will receive double the taxpayer support to help wind down their offices.
The announcement was made quietly by IPSA, the independent body in charge of MP expenses, in July, who said the current two-month winding-up period has proven to be “too short for winding up what can be complex office arrangements”.
“IPSA has seen the issues for MPs’ staff who have often been contacted after the winding-up period to assist in finding receipts for business costs.
“The winding-up period will now be four months from the date of the next general election. This additional time will allow most administrative tasks to be completed by former Members and enable IPSA to focus high-quality support to newly elected MPs and staff.”
The move to give more taxpayer’s cash to MPs is raising eyebrows, not least as it comes amid the worst cost of living crisis in many years.
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MPs have to demonstrate they are using their time to work on closing down their offices, including tying up loose ends and offering to hand over ongoing constituency casework to their successor.
Tory MP Bob Seeley told TalkTV: “I don’t think people resigning should be getting a payout”.
“But this is an independent body, I’m afraid to say we don’t get to vote on it unless somebody tells us that we do, and frankly, I am more concerned about dealing with my constituency casework.
“So I’m not particularly happy about this either because it just shows us in a bad light and despite the fact it’s an independent body, everyone is going to blame us for it.
“It really winds me up, frankly.”
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The winding-up cash comes on top of the MP loss of office payment eligible to those to stand at the election but lose their seat.
MPs are eligible for the payment if they have held office for at least two years before being chucked out by voters, and is worth double the prevailing statutory redundancy entitlement.
Ministers also get a payout of up to £16,876 if they lose their Cabinet jobs.
A spokesperson for IPSA said: “Following a public consultation earlier this year, based upon the evidence available to us and our own experience from previous elections, we agreed that the winding-up period is too short for former MPs and their staff to close down their offices and deal with outstanding casework.
“It is also unfair to expect those closing their offices to do so once their employment has ended. We therefore have extended it to allow a smoother transition for members of parliament and for their constituents.”
John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayer’s Alliance, criticised the news, saying: “Doubling golden goodbyes for MPs is a kick in the teeth for taxpayers”.
“Hard-pressed Brits are already funding generous salaries, perks and pensions for elected officials.
“IPSA should be mindful of that when recommending more taxpayers’ money for politicians.”
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