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.”

Sign up for our news alerts today!

Our editors' picks for the day's top news delivered to your inbox or phone.

Sign up for email alerts Sign up for mobile alerts
1
2 3 4 5 6
7

Latest London politics news

Monday, June 29, 2015
Protesters at an earlier anti-austerity demo in Berlin in March (Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images)

Owen Jones, Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn and Green MP Caroline Lucas are all at a rally in Trafalgar Square to show solidarity with Greece this evening.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Police clashed with disabled protesters in the lobby of the House of Commons (Photo: Debbie Jolly/PA Wire)

Police have been accused of “heavy handed tactics” as they blocked disabled protesters, many in wheelchairs, from entering the House of Commons chamber during Prime Minister’s Questions today.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015
(Hannah McKay/PA Wire)

In his latest YouTube video and in the wake of Saturday’s anti-austerity march, Russell Brand has called on people to ‘love the police’ and protest in the streets for better pay, better overtime and better pensions. This, he claims, is a new form of activism called ‘situationism’ which creates ‘spectacles which are provocative and interesting’. You can watch his Trews video below.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015
Anti-austerity protesters at the State Opening of Parliament (John Stillwell/PA Wire)

Tens of thousands of people from all over the country are expected to demonstrate in London for the People’s Assembly ‘End Austerity Now’ protest on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015
(Zac Goldsmith running for Mayor. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Images)

Expelled Eton boy, environmentalist and Conservative rising star Zac Goldsmith has joined Sol Campbell in announcing he will run for the role of Mayor of London.

Monday, June 8, 2015
(Picture: Martin Rickett / PA Archive)

The star football player has told SunNation he will run for the role of London Mayor in 2016 and is “in it to win it”.

What is this?

Near You Now

Don't Miss...

Competitions

Good times with Greenall's!

Good times with Greenall’s, a Great British gin sponsors Great British racing.

Read more
Escape to the picturesque sights of Cornwall

Summer is finally here, and what is the number one holiday location in the UK during the warmer months? Cornwall, of course!

Read more
Adrenalin junkies, this one's for you!

An icon of British engineering and a consistent favourite of James Bond, there are few names quite as legendary in motoring as Aston Martin.

Read more