Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Politicians face cuts after Budget

TDs and senators face various cuts including the scrapping of their unvouched expenses system
TDs and senators face various cuts including the scrapping of their unvouched expenses system

As the nation digests a new wave of taxes on homes and cuts to benefits, the Government has hit politicians, too.

Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin said TDs and senators face their own string of cuts, including the scrapping of a heavily criticised unvouched expenses system and massive payments to party leaders.

He said it was only right that money paid to politicians be constantly scrutinised, claiming that despite a number of reforms, he was still not happy with the system.

Mr Howlin said: "The payments that the members of these houses receive are constantly under scrutiny and rightly so. While the revised system of expenses introduced by the last Government was an improvement on what went before, the system remains unsatisfactory."

Under Budget 2013 unvouched expenses will be abolished, meaning politicians will have to account for everything they claim for.

Expenditure limits of the parliamentary standard allowance will be reduced by between 10% and 25%, while the current allocation for pre-paid envelopes is to be halved.

Mr Howlin announced plans to audit the payment of a party leader's allowance to independent members. He said it was untenable that this payment be made without any external validation of its use.

He also unveiled plans to reduce the party leaders' allowance by 10% across the board. Elsewhere, under current rules, when ministers and other office holders leave their posts they receive a substantial severance payout, that is payable up to two years after their exit.

Mr Howlin said he hopes to introduce legislation to abolish the payment - for current and future ministers.

"I do not believe this is justifiable any more," said the minister.

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