Burnley MP's costs revealed

Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham cost the taxpayer around £223,000 last year, new figures reveal.

By Dominic Collis
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 2:25 pm

Figures from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority show the Conservative MP's total business costs for the 2020-21 financial year were £223,430.86.

The MP's costs were up from £42,654.05 the year before, and above the average for all Members of Parliament, of £203,880.

By comparison, Darren Henry, a fellow Tory MP for Broxtowe, had costs of £280,900 last year, while Philip Hollobone, the member for Kettering, had just £80,700.

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Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham

Antony Higginbotham, who was elected in December 2019, spent £200,600 on office running costs in 2020-21, including £172,100 on staff wages and £28,400 on other office expenditures.

And he spent £18,900 of his accommodation budget (of £22,300), and a further £3,900 on travel and subsistence.

“Establishing a constituency office as a new MP with a dedicated team supporting me in assisting local residents takes up almost 90% of my business costs.

"That's enabled me to open an office in the centre of Burnley, recruit a team from the local area to help me respond to more 10,000 emails, phone calls and letters from residents, and assist with the lobbying I do down in Westminster for our borough.

"The remaining budget, representing just 10%, is for accommodation in London and travel between Burnley and Westminster. On both of these I am proud to have spent significantly less than my predecessor.

"Whilst there is an unavoidable cost associated with politics and democracy, I'm determined to ensure that everything I do represents value for money for local taxpayers.”

Mr Higginbotham's five largest types of costs were:

1) Payroll – costing £163,655.32

2) Rent – £25,283.62

3) Equipment - purchase – £4,700.11

4) Training - staff – £4,494.80

5) Stationery & printing – £4,049.49

He also spent £1,341.61 on a working from home allowance.

The total costs of MPs last year rose by 4%, to £132.5 million, with almost £300,000 going on hotel claims for just 49 members.

Business costs are the essential costs incurred by MPs while carrying out their parliamentary duties including staffing, office costs and travel.

MPs cannot claim for personal costs, such as food and drink, during their normal working day, and all claims must be compliant with IPSA rules and accompanied by evidence.

IPSA’s chairman, Richard Lloyd, said compliance with the rules was at 99.7% last year.

He added: “By far the largest area of spending is to pay for the salaries of MPs’ staff.

"In the last financial year MPs and their staff changed how they work to provide their constituents with a service during the pandemic.

“We enabled MPs’ staff to work from home, while the amount spent on parliamentary business travel fell to reflect different working patterns."

The IPSA figures also reveal the 200 individual claims made by Antony Higginbotham in 2020-21, with the most expensive single claim being for staff payroll – £163,655.32.

At the other end of the scale, the smallest one-off expense the 32-year-old claimed was 32p for stationery and printing.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "It’s important MPs have the resources to do their jobs, but many taxpayers will be worried about the soaring cost of politics.

“The electorate expects politicians to stay grounded and keep costs under control, particularly given the Covid pandemic saw many MPs and their staff work from home.

“With taxpayers facing a cost of living crisis, politicians should be doing their utmost to keep their spending down.”

MPs' costs are usually broken down into dozens of categories, with staff pay almost always the largest expense.

The average cost of an MP was up 29%, from £158,103, in 2019-20.

Kit Malthouse was the most expensive MP attending the Cabinet in 2020-21, with total costs of £244,312.

This was compared to £178,406 for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and £168,109 for Sir Keir Starmer.