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MPs eligible for £10,000 grant from councils over constituency office closures

Some local authorities could even make the payments automatically, despite politicians already receiving a separate £10,000 to set up home working.

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MPs are entitled to £10,000 for the closure of their constituency office (House of Commons/PA)

MPs are entitled to £10,000 for the closure of their constituency office (House of Commons/PA)

MPs are entitled to £10,000 for the closure of their constituency office (House of Commons/PA)

Hundreds of politicians are entitled to a £10,000 one-off cash grant from their local authority to cover the costs of closing constituency offices, the PA news agency understands.

The money is available – in some cases automatically – despite each MP already being offered a separate £10,000 payment from parliamentary authorities to set up remote working for their staff.

It is unclear whether MPs intend to apply for the grant or return any payment made.

The funds are part of a package for small businesses unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak as the Government attempts to keep companies afloat during what economists predict will be the worst global recession in living memory.

They receive a budget going towards renting and running their constituency office whilst staffing costs are also provided for to meet the cost of the staff who support MPsRobert Hayton, Altus Group

But each politician in England will be entitled to the grant, with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) stating that “eligible businesses will be contacted by their local authority”, while others will have to actively apply for the cash.

The Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) is available to companies if they operate from premises that have a rateable value – a calculation used to determine business rates bills – of £15,000 or less.

A separate scheme has also been launched, providing cash grants of up to £25,000 for retail, leisure and hospitality buildings affected by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

When Mr Sunak announced the scheme, he said: “Businesses have fixed costs ​that ​we will target support at – most of these have two major fixed costs​:​ rent and staff.”

Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at real estate adviser Altus Group, said MPs do not need the cash grants and are not facing financial ruin as a result of the pandemic.

He added: “They receive a budget going towards renting and running their constituency office whilst staffing costs are also provided for to meet the cost of the staff who support MPs.”

Rates have been a hot topic for retailers for several years, with many complaining that the commercial property tax is unfairly calculated.

But since the coronavirus outbreak, Mr Sunak has also announced a 100% rates holiday for several different business sectors, including retail and leisure.

The rates package was welcomed by industries, but supermarket giant Tesco faced criticism after bosses agreed to pay out a £900 million dividend at the same time as it benefited from a £650 million rates holiday.

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Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle defended the extra money offered to MPs (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle defended the extra money offered to MPs (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

PA

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle defended the extra money offered to MPs (Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the decision by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) to offer an additional budget to MPs was to support home working for staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is wrong to characterise this extra £10,000 allocated by Ipsa as MPs giving themselves additional funds,” he said.

“On the contrary, this money is being used to enable MPs’ staff to set up home working to support distressed constituents at a time of crisis. Many MPs have seen their casework soar as a direct result of coronavirus.

“Enabling staff to work remotely is the best and the safest way for them – and the constituents they are in contact with – to communicate and work together during these difficult times. The additional budget is there to draw down on if it is needed and required – and it will have to be accounted for in the usual way.”

PA