This is what Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell spent her £214,000 expenses on

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell cost the taxpayer around £214,000 last year, new figures reveal.

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell speaking in Parliament SUS-160709-094144001
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell speaking in Parliament SUS-160709-094144001

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell cost the taxpayer around £214,000 last year, new figures reveal.

Figures from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority show the Conservative MP’s total business costs for the 2020-21 financial year were £213,897.80.

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The MP’s costs were up from £46,617.74 the year before, and above the average for all Members of Parliament, of £203,880.

By comparison, Darren Henry, a fellow Tory MP for Broxtowe, had costs of £280,900 last year, while Philip Hollobone, the member for Kettering, had just £80,700.

Mrs Ansell, who was elected in December 2019, spent £193,200 on office running costs in 2020-21, including £163,900 on staff wages and £29,300 on other office expenditures.

And she spent all of her accommodation budget (£19,300), and a further £1,500 on travel and subsistence.

The total costs of MPs last year rose by 4%, to £132.5 million, with almost £300,000 going on hotel claims for just 49 members.

Business costs are the essential costs incurred by MPs while carrying out their parliamentary duties including staffing, office costs and travel.

MPs cannot claim for personal costs, such as food and drink, during their normal working day, and all claims must be compliant with IPSA rules and accompanied by evidence.

IPSA’s chairman, Richard Lloyd, said compliance with the rules was at 99.7% last year.

He added: “By far the largest area of spending is to pay for the salaries of MPs’ staff.

“In the last financial year MPs and their staff changed how they work to provide their constituents with a service during the pandemic.

“We enabled MPs’ staff to work from home, while the amount spent on parliamentary business travel fell to reflect different working patterns.”

The IPSA figures also reveal the 171 individual claims made by Mrs Ansell in 2020-21, with the most expensive single claim being for staff payroll – £130,699.37.

At the other end of the scale, the smallest one-off expense the 51-year-old claimed was 31p for stationery and printing.

The average cost of an MP was up 29%, from £158,103, in 2019-20.

Kit Malthouse was the most expensive MP attending the Cabinet in 2020-21, with total costs of £244,312.

This was compared to £178,406 for Prime Minister Boris Johnson and £168,109 for Sir Keir Starmer.

John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s important MPs have the resources to do their jobs, but many taxpayers will be worried about the soaring cost of politics.

“The electorate expects politicians to stay grounded and keep costs under control, particularly given the Covid pandemic saw many MPs and their staff work from home.

“With taxpayers facing a cost of living crisis, politicians should be doing their utmost to keep their spending down.”

MPs’ costs are usually broken down into dozens of categories, with staff pay almost always the largest expense.

Mrs Ansell said, “My business costs are a little over the average for MPs but my constituency is larger than average too in population terms.

“The pandemic has certainly driven the rise in costs as my brilliant team and I have dealt with thousands of extra emails and calls for help than usual in these challenging times.

“I brought in one temporary member of staff for several months in 2020 to help cope with the volume of correspondence to enable me to give the best possible service to my constituents.

“I do all I can to limit costs to the taxpayer and I have kept under the budget allocated to me by IPSA. However, I would spend every penny of my budget if that was necessary to help everyone in Eastbourne and Willingdon who asked for assistance.”

Mrs Ansell’s five largest types of costs were:

1) Payroll – costing £130,699.37

2) Bought-in services – £30,144.00

3) Rent – £22,519.63

4) Equipment - purchase – £7,260.83

5) Training - staff – £3,496.10

She also spent £1,358.33 on a working from home allowance.