Expenses claim figures are 'skewed' says MP Daniel Kawczynski
MP Daniel Kawczynski says figures that show he made one of the highest expenses claims of any Member of Parliament last year are 'skewed'.
And the Shrewsbury and Atcham MP today said he would be paying back more than £4,000 – something the figures did not take into account.
Overall, Shropshire's MPs, along with Montgomeryshire's Glyn Davies, claimed a total of £255,000.
According to the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Mr Kawczynski claimed just over £64,800 on top of his basic salary of £65,738, putting him 13th in the list of highest claimants.
Of that, nearly £27,000 went on accommodation.
But Mr Kawczynski said that figure was misleading, and meant it looked like he had claimed more than he had.
He said: "You cannot go above £22,000 on accommodation.
"If you do you have to pay the money back.
"So because mine is more, I have been invoiced for £4,000.
"Before December 1 that will have to be paid back."
Mr Kawczynski said it was also important to stress that he did not see any of the money.
He said: "When you say 'expenses' there is a perception that its money that goes into my pocket."
He said the figures had also been skewed by some one off costs including the redesign of his website – which was carried out by a Shrewsbury company – and additional research costs.
He added: "Over the last eight years I have always been in the bottom quartile. It concerns me that this year I have gone up and I will look at ways to keep budget expenditure to a minimum while not reducing services to constituents."
Nationally, the bill for MPs' expenses rose by more than seven per cent last year to £98 million.
Spending is now higher than in the run-up to the scandal that rocked Westminster in 2009.
Most of the increase was down to larger staffing budgets – but the cost of MPs' personal expenses also rose from £23.5 million in 2011-12 to £23.8 million last year.
Other details released by Ipsa showed that MPs handed out £13,163 in "reward and recognition" payments to 49 staff members last year.
The rules give politicians discretion to distribute "reasonable" sums when employees have performed well – although family members are not eligible.
Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard, who claimed a total of £56,680, gave one member of staff £750.
The figures show that Cabinet minister Owen Paterson, who represents North Shropshire, claimed £23,643; Ludlow's Philip Dunne claimed £22,345; Montgomeryshire's Glyn Davies claimed £52,275; and David Wright, representing Telford, claimed £35,524.
Mr Davies said: "Being an MP brings with it cost.
"I try to minimise mine as much as possible.
"I live a long way away from London in a rural constituency so I inevitably travel a lot.
"I have accommodation near the House of Commons which actually costs me more than I claim.
"I hope I provide value for money and I hope people realise it is impossible for me to make it any less."
Mr Wright said: "I try very hard to ensure that my claims are reasonable and I work hard with my staff to ensure that we keep costs down."
Ipsa claimed it had saved the taxpayer £35 million since taking over the expenses system in 2010.
However, it used figures from two years before it started work – and before the expenses scandal broke – as a baseline to calculate the saving.
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