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Sinn Fein MP confirms the party will not collect £10k office grant

 

Sinn Fein MPs will not take a £10,000 increase in office cost allowances.

The increase has been introduced by the Westminster government to help MPs and their staff adapt to working from home and new social distancing rules amid the coronavirus pandemic.

But South Down MP Chris Hazzard said he and his six party colleagues in the House of Commons confirmed they will not avail of the increase.

"As an Irish republican political party which stands on a platform of Irish unity and which does not take our seats in the British Parliament, Sinn Fein MPs do not receive any salary from Westminster," he said.

"This proposal to increase the office cost allowance by £10,000 is not an increase in MP or staff salary, but an uplift in office cost allowance for ensuring a constituency service can continue to operate remotely in these times of crisis and to meet the needs of constituents. Sinn Fein MPs will not avail of this increase."

The £10,000 figure is on top of the £26,000 MPs can claim to cover office costs.

DUP MP Carla Lockhart stressed the money can only be spent supporting the MP, or their team to work from home.

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It is understood the additional allowance can be used to buy equipment such as laptops and printers for staff having to work from home.

The Upper Bann MP said: "The headline being shared with regards to the £10,000 office allowance has been widely misconstrued as a payment to MPs personally.

"This is completely untrue. None of this money comes personally to an MP and only what is justifiable and necessary will be spent of this allowance.

"By their very nature, a constituency office is public facing and therefore there is no facility to work from home. We must protect personal data in accordance with GDPR and for that reason personal devices cannot be used."

Ms Lockhart said she will be working to support constituents, and would be using a "minimal" amount of the allowance.

"I and my staff will not be found wanting when my constituents need me the most," she said.


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