MPs said they can throw Christmas parties at taxpayer expense

MPs said they can throw Christmas parties at taxpayer expense

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: The Christmas tree outside number 10 Downing Street on December 11, 2021 in London, England.  Number 10 has canceled its Christmas party over concerns over rising covid-19 cases.  There is also an ongoing investigation into a gathering in Downing Street in December last year, two days after the country introduced Tier 3 lockdown restrictions.  (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Some MPs have blasted the news (Picture: Getty Images Europe)

MPs have been told they will be allowed to hold Christmas shows at taxpayer expense in an announcement that has sparked anger.

For the first time, politicians in their constituency can declare ‘the cost of food and drink for an office party’.

Lights, tinsel and Christmas trees could also be spent as new advice from The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority approves indoor ‘festive decorations’ and the sending of cards to residents.

But public money should not be spent on alcohol, the guidance warns.

MPs have been instructed to carefully consider the cost as many Britons struggle to heat their homes and feed their children.

Their meetings should provide “value for money, especially in the current economic climate,” according to a document designed to answer “frequently asked questions.”

MPs in London get £31,620 in their annual budget for office expenses, while those outside the capital get £28,570.

Costs, including travel, accommodation and staff, rose to £138.6 million in 2021-22, Daily Mail reports.

Labor MP Jess Phillips blasted the news saying ‘no one asked for this and no one I know will use it’.

She called Ipsa “irresponsible” in a post on Twitter retweeted by Secretary of State James Cleverly, saying: “The directive was not made by MPs and yet we will be taunted for it. I think it is really irresponsible to give these directives as if MPs have been screaming for them, when I have literally never heard anyone do that.

“I have a tree in my office that we dust every year and decorations (tinsel and baubles from Wilkos) that I paid for. We got homemade decorations made by kids at a local school and some knitted string lights made by a lovely local knitting group (which I paid for again).

“I will throw a Christmas party for my staff, it will be at my house where I will cook and pay for all the food and drink.”

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis also criticized the move, saying the expense watchdog had ‘missed the mood of the times’.

The senior Tory told TalkTV, “I think it’s insane, frankly.”

Shadow affairs secretary Jonathan Reynolds has suggested the expense watchdog had been a “little naive” in issuing such guidelines.

He told Times Radio: ‘People haven’t asked for this. I don’t think anyone will use it.

“This is our regulator… the independent body that manages the MPs’ expenses system, which is a system for staffing and renting your office and all that sort of thing, you know, being a bit naive, to be honest, because when they publish stuff like this, you get a story like this.

“I understand why people cover it this way, but I doubt anyone will use it.” People will not have asked for it. And (perhaps) Ipsa should be a bit smarter in how they present what they’re doing with it.’

The news also came under fire from the TaxPayers’ Alliance, with a spokesman saying: “MPs are already getting a plum deal without taxpayer-funded office jollies.”

‘While companies and households in their constituencies pay parties out of their own pockets, politicians are allowed to dive into the state coffers. Members of Parliament who want Christmas will have to foot the bill themselves,” said John O’Connell of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

Metro.co.uk has contacted Downing Street for comment.

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