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Investigation shows MPs have claimed £89 million in expenses

A Channel 4 investigation has revealed that MPs claims for living costs have dropped by just one percent since the 2009 expenses scandal.

The report for the Dispatches programme showed that taxpayers are paying out around £89 million each year on MPs expenses, compared to the £90 million before the scandal broke.

The costs are as a result of more than 300 MPs continuing to claim for second homes with expenses claims for luxury flats in central London with monthly rents of up to £1,667.

The system of expenses was revamped in 2009 after the public outrage sparked by details of the MPs’ claims being made public. For months the media was full of stories about extravagant claims for items such as a ‘duck island’ and moat cleaning services.

The main change to the system was to ban MPs from claiming the cost of mortgages as an expense but the Dispatches programme showed that many have now switched to claiming for rented accommodation instead.

One of the politicians coming under the spotlight was Equalities Minister and Maidstone MP, Helen Grant. She was shown to be claiming the maximum rental allowance for a city centre apartment despite living just 19 miles from the House of Commons.

She said that she had tried to commute from her £1.8 million home in Reigate, Surrey but decided it was unworkable and started to claim rent for a Thameside flat, next to the MI6 building.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude was also found to be claiming thousands of pounds for a second home in central London despite a pledge in 2009 by Prime Minister David Cameron that he would not claim for a second home.

A spokesperson for the expenses watchdog, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) said that the MPs were complying with the current rules. In the case of Helen Grant, her Surrey home was classed as being outside London and she was entitled to claim for a second property in the capital.

But Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the politicians were breaching the spirit of the rules.

He said: “Most people would expect that by choosing to remain living in her Surrey home – which is a commutable distance from London – Mrs Grant would have made herself ineligible to make these claims. This is a loophole in the rules which ought to be closed.”

You can watch the Dispatches programme by clicking here