Minister defends claiming expenses on London flat

20:12 18 November 2012

Helen Grant

Helen Grant's has defended her expenses claims. File picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

A Government equalities minister claims the maximum expenses for a second home in London despite living just 19 miles from the Commons, it has emerged.

Helen Grant lives in a £1.8 million home in Reigate, Surrey - outside her Maidstone constituency.

But she also rents a Thameside flat near the MI6 building in Vauxhall which is funded on expenses.

Mrs Grant is eligible for a second home allowance on Parliamentary expenses because her constituency is outside London and the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) confirmed the MP’s claim was within the rules.

But the Reigate home in which Mrs Grant lives is not far enough from London for the constituency MP - Tory Crispin Blunt - to make similar expenses claims.

A spokesman for Mrs Grant said: “Mrs Grant’s constituency has been deemed by IPSA to be a non-London constituency and she is therefore fully entitled to use her rental accommodation allowance either in London or in the constituency.

“She has a base in her constituency at her mother’s property, where her son also lives, so she sees no need to rent a further property there.

“The focus of her time and responsibility has always been Maidstone and the Weald.”

The expense claims were uncovered in an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches, which is due to broadcast a film called MPs: Are They Still At It? tomorrow night.

A spokesman for IPSA said: “We set the rules up based on the constituency the MP represents. We provide support for one of those locations to help with renting a flat.

“Ultimately it comes down to the MP’s judgment about what they need to claim for.

“We don’t check to see what private assets an MP has.”

Mrs Grant’s London flat is supported by expense claims of £1,666.67 per month - the maximum allowed within the rules, which caps rental claims at £20,000 per year. Mrs Grant has filed claims for rent since March this year.

Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said the MP appeared to have breached the spirit of the rules and called for them to be tightened to prevent other such cases.

“Helen Grant’s arrangements certainly appear to be against the spirit of the rules.

“The taxpayer-funded allowance for a second home is meant to be there for MPs living in a constituency home from which they cannot reasonably commute to Westminster on a daily basis.”

Latest Stories from SNAP.PA

British nurse William Pooley is to deliver Channel 4′s Alternative Christmas Message.

Read more

Emmerdale’s Barton boys are set to meet their estranged mum.

Read more

Janey Godley was caught up in the major road incident at George Square today, and gave her testimony of what she saw.

Read more

Promoted content

We've got a great selection of Secret Santa presents and stocking fillers for under a tenner...  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Office Secret Santa: it’s a Christmas ritual that everyone dreads, but no-one wants to seem like a Scrooge by saying no. Never fear, London24 is here to make buying gifts for Dave in Accounts simple and stress-free, with a selection of presents for under a tenner

Money saving Christmas gifts to add to your shopping list!

It’s nearly time to go on the hunt for Christmas presents, stuck on what to get for your nearest and dearest? We’ve picked out a selection of great deals to get you started and to help you save some pennies!

Janey Godley was caught up in the major road incident at George Square today, and gave her testimony of what she saw.

The former QPR and Burnley player was reportedly involved in a serious incident involving a lorry in North Yorkshire.

Ringo Starr, Bette Midler, Steven Tyler and Boy George are among the many musicians paying tribute to the Sheffield singer.

People are paying tribute after the rock and blues legend Joe Cocker has passed away.

TOP Stories

Yesterday, 16:21
Pensioner Geoffrey Lederman ploughed into mother Desreen Brooks at 54mph(Google Street View)

An 85-year-old from Maida Vale who ploughed his car into a mother at 54mph, killing her in front of her husband and toddler has been jailed for 18 months.

Yesterday, 15:01
Jason Oparaocha has been jailed for nine months

A Harlesden man who attacked two city workers when one of them tried to chat up his friend will spend Christmas in jail.

Yesterday, 11:46
Officers would like to speak to this man (Pic credit: Brent Police)

Police have released the image of a man they would like to speak to in connection with a pub fight in Neasden which has left a peacemaker in a coma.

London Bloggers

Yesterday, 12:37
Around 25 per cent of the population self-identity as having no religion yet still enjoy the fun of Christmas (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

It’s Christmas time. We know this by the light-adorned streets, the mobility hazard posed by boxes of Quality Street, Roses and Celebrations in every supermarket’s entrance and, of course, the incessant radio-plays of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas Is You.

Thursday, November 27, 2014
The main room at the Museum of Comedy (Pic: Steve Ullathorne)

This week I visited the Museum of Comedy located at the corner of Museum Street and Bloomsbury Way in the crypt under St George’s Church.

Thursday, November 27, 2014
Bird Lovegod

I genuinely and honestly have only a slight problem when it comes to buying domain names.