07 April 2009

The Cheapest MP

My apologies to Philip Hollobone (Tory for Kettering) - turns out he was the frugal MP mentioned on the BBC several months ago

Here he is in the telegraph - living in a cramped office and using second class post, and I totally agree with him for only using standard class travel (why shouldn't you??)

I still wonder how he rates on a service level - it's very good that he keeps his expenses down but they are there for a reason, and if you can improve the service to constituents with a bit more cash then I think you should - the real issue is that you do not personally benefit from expenses, which he clearly doesn't - the issue of service is brought up in this article in the Indie

One issue I must take up though, is why does he claim the full amount for the second home? He says it's done begrudgingly - but other MPs can do it for less - I have stayed in nice, cheap London hotels many times, costing about £55-70 per night - every weeknight in the year would not cost more than £15k at this rate, and that's assuming he is there four nights a week every week, when parliament barely runs for half the year - I have no idea how often he is down there so I used the full 52 weeks

Hotels may not be very practical, but I'm fairly sure you could rent a private property for less than full - I've just been on google and found flats in SE London (where he stays) for less than £1500 a month, by my reckoning that's £18,000 at a generous estimate - if he was truly interested in cutting costs surely he could knock off a bit? Instead he claims £84 less than full, coming in at the 195th most expensive claim on second homes - more than 400 (or over 60%) manage it for less, and they aren't all London MPs - Chris Huhne lives in Hampshire and manages it for less than £4,000, Eric Pickles, of whom some question the validity of his claim considering he only travels from Essex, is under £14,000 - why is Phil up in the upper echelons? (To be fair there seem to only be about 200 MPs who claim substantially less than the full amount, but still - he's right up there)

I don't want to attack the bloke, because he seems reasonable, and certainly isn't worthy of public scorn - I'm just questioning everything I see and could maybe help him cheapen up that expense which he says he's worried over

I am now going to play with a spreadsheet on a fact finding mission, toodles

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