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MPs charged public £1.3m to foot their tax bills

Revealed: Council tax expense claims come on top of the £11.4m taxpayers already spend on MPs' rent and energy

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Martin Williams
10 August 2022, 1.10pm

Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss is among MPs charging taxpayers for their council tax bills

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PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

MPs have claimed more than £1.3m on expenses to pay for their own tax bills, openDemocracy can reveal.

They include Conservative leadership hopeful Liz Truss, who charged the public more than £5,000 over the past three years.

MPs who commute to Parliament from outside London are allowed to claim expenses for having a second home, including their council tax bills.

Tory MP Laura Farris – who sits on the Standards Committee – even tried to claim an £85 “late payment fee” on expenses, after she failed to pay her council tax on time. The claim was rejected by authorities, who told Farris she must pay the fee to Kensington and Chelsea council herself.

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Farris is the MP for Newbury, which is just 40 minutes train journey from London.

The council tax bills come on top of MPs’ eye-watering rent payments, which are also footed by taxpayers.

Last year alone, they spent more than £11.2m on rent for second homes – which was claimed back on expenses.

Tory backbencher Marcus Fysh claimed the most, racking up £30,250 of rent payments.

His colleague, Bim Afolami, also charged taxpayers £2,730 per month for renting a second home – despite living just 26 minutes away from London by train.

The former HSBC executive has boasted about his Grade II listed house near Harpenden, where there are regular trains to central London.

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Liz Truss 2019
Liz Truss and Matt Hancock are among the MPs who have charged energy bills to the public purse in the last three years

In April, openDemocracy revealed that MPs had also claimed £420,000 in expenses to heat their second homes since 2019.

The government has refused to step in to curb spiralling energy costs, which are forecast to hit over £4,200 a year.

But government ministers are among the 405 MPs who have claimed expenses for their energy bills since April 2019. They include foreign secretary Liz Truss, two senior Treasury ministers, and even a minister from the department for energy.

Rules on MPs’ expenses have been governed by an independent body since 2009, after the Expenses Scandal revealed widespread abuse of the system. But questions have remained about how much MPs should be allowed to claim.

Despite many people being hit with real-terms pay cuts, MPs enjoyed a £2,212 pay rise earlier this year, bringing their standard salary up to £84,144 a year.

In reality, many MPs earn far more than this, as they are often paid extra for taking on additional roles like being a minister or chairing a select committee.

Last year, openDemocracy also revealed that MPs had earned £6m from second jobs since the start of the pandemic.

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