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Somerset MPs' expenses vary as national bill tops record £98m
TAUNTON Deane MP Jeremy Browne claimed a below-average £140,549 on expenses last year, new figures show.
Mr Browne’s claim was below average – and Mr Liddell-Grainger’s above average – for all 650 MPs, whose collective bill rose by 10% last year to a record-breaking £98.1million.
The lion’s share of both MPs’ expense claims were for paying employees, such as researchers, case workers and office secretaries after staffing budgets were increased.
Mr Browne said: “It is good that there is full transparency on MPs’ pay and expenses so people can see how public money is being spent.
“I have aimed to keep costs down and have deliberately not claimed anything for London living costs and some other categories of allowances.
“At the same time, it is worth highlighting that the vast majority of claims are for secretarial staff costs and office accommodation.
“These expenses are vital to allow me to provide a full and professional service for the more than 100,000 people who live in Taunton Deane.”
The sums for travel, accommodation and staffing are paid by the Independent Parliament-ary Standards Authority and nationwide represent the highest figure since the creation of the organisation following the expenses scandal in 2009.
Mr Liddell-Granger, who declined to comment on his expenses, was the only Somerset MP to claim a ‘miscellaneous’ amount, claiming £944.40 to help him move into a new flat last year.
The Conservative MP is also the only Somerset MP to employ a spouse – his wife, Jill – on a salary of between £30,000 and £34,999 a year as a parliamentary assistant.
The publication of the figures comes after the watchdog proposed lifting MPs’ pay from £66,000 now to £74,000 after the 2015 General Election, despite opposition from Prime Minister David Cameron.
A spokesman from IPSA said: “This year’s claims are the highest since we came into existence, but are still lower than the £102.3m the House paid for expenses and staff wages in 2008/09.”
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