Bill for Mps' expenses rises by 7%
The bill for MPs' expenses rose by more than 7% last year to £98 million, according to new figures.
The sum paid out by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) for personal costs and running offices was up from £91.5 million in 2011-12. 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. The details emerged in the latest annual information released by the parliamentary watchdog.
The largest claims in 2012/13 were from Ian Paisley - the DUP MP for North Antrim, at £100,204 - followed by Lib Dem Alistair Carmichael, the Orkney and Shetland MP who claimed £82,878, and Conservative David Morris, who is MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale and claimed £75,902.
Labour's Debbie Abrahams, the Oldham East and Saddleworth MP claimed £74,615.
One MP - Tory Zac Goldsmith of Richmond Park - made no claim, while Tory business minister Michael Fallon, the Sevenoaks MP, received just £38.74 and party colleague Adam Afriyie, the Windsor MP, claimed £604.20.
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.
While the total allowances bill was £95.4 million in 2008-09, it had already dropped to £90.7 million by 2009-10. House of Commons records suggest that MPs received £27 million for personal and staff expenses in 2008-09 and £20.4 million the following year.
The publication comes after the watchdog proposed lifting MPs' pay from £66,000 now to £74,000 after the 2015 general election - despite protests from David Cameron that the cost of politics must not be allowed to rise.
TaxPayers' Alliance chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: "Taxpayers want to know that they are getting value for their money and they will have serious concerns about there being a hike in the overall cost of running MPs' offices over the last 12 months. While there have been many sensible changes to the expenses regime since the 2009 scandal, this kind of year-on-year rise is totally unsustainable and Ipsa has to explain to those of us footing the bill how that has been allowed to happen."