14 MPs With Second Homes Accused of Exploiting Expense ‘Loophole’

By Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.
November 12, 2021 Updated: November 12, 2021

More fuel was thrown into corruptions allegations in the UK as it was revealed 14 British MPs have been letting out their London homes while renting with taxpayer’s money.

A senior Conservative MP said the arrangement is “plain wrong” while some MPs accused of exploiting a loophole to pocket money criticised the “stupid” rule, saying it forced them out of their own homes and ultimately costs taxpayers more.

According to The Times of London, 14 MPs, mostly Conservative, have been claiming rental costs while letting out their own properties in London.

MPs who represent constituencies outside central London need two places to live as they are required to attend Parliament in Westminster as well as work in their constituencies.

Before 2010, the MPs could claim expenses of running a second home—be it rented or purchased.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) changed the rule in 2010 to only allow claims against rental cost after it was reported that some MPs were claiming gratuitous expenses, switching the designated second home to get work done on both, or selling properties at a higher price after renovating them with public money.

But MPs who already bought a second home could keep claiming mortgage interest payments until August 2012.

Some then decided to let their second homes and rent instead, so they wouldn’t be running a second home out of their own pockets—an arrangement allowed within the rules.

Robert Goodwill, a Conservative former minister, said he had told Ipsa the rule was “crazy.”

Goodwill told The Times of London that it would only cost the taxpayers £4,500 (approx. $6,000) a year if he’s allowed to claim mortgage interest repayments, but instead, he’s now claiming £17,619 ($23,624) a year to rent a property in London.

But some have argued that the MPs should sell their homes, and others said the “loophole” needs to be closed.

“MPs have got a personal responsibility to only use public funds where really necessary,” former chairman of the committee on standards in public life Sir Alistair Graham said.

“If they have flats in London then they shouldn’t call on public funds, simple as that,” he added.

Senior Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale said the arrangement is “plain wrong,” adding that “it’s wholly maybe within the regulations, but it’s wholly against the spirit of what is happening.”

Gale said he rents a room at a friend’s flat to save money.

Ipsa defended the expense rules, saying it’s technically not a loophole.

“We have acknowledged it and allowed it,” a spokesperson said.

“We don’t believe Ipsa has a remit to interfere in MPs’ private arrangements as no taxpayer money is involved.”

An Ipsa document in 2017 acknowledged that such arrangements could be controversial but advised against any change to the rules.

“We recognise that there can be a perception of personal gain if an MP receives rental income from their own property while living in an Ipsa-funded flat,” it said.

“However, our view has not changed that an MP’s personal financial situation is not a relevant ‘test’ for whether they should receive support from Ipsa.”

The Ipsa said it didn’t want to judge an MP’s private arrangements and whether or not they should live in a property they own.

“Our concern is to ensure that MPs have the appropriate support they need to carry out their parliamentary roles, including suitable accommodation in two locations,” it said.

Lily Zhou
Lily Zhou is a freelance writer mostly covering UK news for The Epoch Times.