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

It was one of the big innovations from Apple’s iPhone event back in September and now it’s arrived in the US.

Read more

Girls and guys nationwide developed a bit of an obsession with the newcomer played by Davood Ghadami.

Read more

Yet his artwork has already been vandalised in hours.

Read more

Promotions

AGA Living Subscription

Every issue of AGA Living magazine is packed full of celebrity AGA owner interviews, interior and design features, ideas to inspire your culinary imagination, mouth-watering recipes and inspirational shopping ideas.

Dojo gives you hand picked recommendations for events, places and activities in London

Tired of always hearing about some amazing event in London after its gone, missing out on the best activities? That’s where Dojo comes in.

It was one of the big innovations from Apple’s iPhone event back in September and now it’s arrived in the US.

Yet his artwork has already been vandalised in hours.

Bus driver dishes out quick punishment to would-be thief who tries to steal a passenger’s bag.

What do Sol Campbell’s never ending slide tackle and an iPhone’s battery life have in common?

TOP Stories

8 minutes ago
The scene of a non-fatal accident on Southwark Street[Photograph by @tfltrafficnews]

A person has been killed in the high winds that are sweeping London today.

25 minutes ago
Raphael Carrondo is offereing a reward to anyone who helps him find the person who almost pushed him under the wheels of a coach [Image from YouTube]

A London man is appealing for the public to help him find a fellow cyclist who lashed out at him, knocking him off his bike and into the path of an oncoming coach.

57 minutes ago
This scorpion, named Sansa, was found in the Hampstead home of former Everything But The Girl singer Ben Watt. Picture: Dave Clarke/ZSL

London Zoo has come to the rescue of an unusual continental visitor in Hampstead.

London Bloggers

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The cast, including Josie Lawrence and Mike Myers

Simon Collins catches up with the improv impresarios, who despite being the world’s longest-running comedy show with the same cast, have lost none of the razor-sharp wit:

Monday, September 1, 2014
Do you really need an explanation for that?! (Pic by Serena Marinelli)

If you’ve ever seen an Italian movie, you would probably know how important body language is in the culture.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Don't waste any of your harvest

If you are now inundated with ripe tomatoes, juicy green beans, berries and herbs, don’t leave them to go stringy or mouldy because the freezer can go a long way to making your crops last well into winter.