South Yorks and area MPs claimed £760,000 in expenses

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MPs in South Yorkshire and the surrounding area claimed a total of more than three quarters of a million in expenses and allowances.

Latest statistics have been revealed by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority – IPSA – which showed £760,000 was paid out in 2012/13.

The money was received by MPs in Sheffield, Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham, north Derbyshire and Bassetlaw.

Claims – excluding those made by Denis MacShane and Sarah Champion because they only served part of the year – averaged £40,000 per member of parliament.

The expenses cover travel, office accommodation and administration costs, excluding full-time staff.

The IPSA statistics also show 10 local MPs employed partners or relatives to assist their duties.

Expenses varied from almost £12,500 claimed by Bolsover MP Dennis Skinner to more than £68,000 claimed by John Healey.

Sheffield South East MP Clive Betts, who employs his partner, James Thomas, as senior parliamentary assistant, said: “Our working lives are slightly strange and sometimes having partners working for you helps because assistants have to be flexible in the way they operate.

“But what matters is their ability to do the job.”

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith employs husband Steve Wilson, a Stocksbridge Labour councillor.

Ms Smith said: “Steve has been an integral part of helping put together opposition to the Government’s lobbying bill which will restrict charities from voicing their opinions near elections.

“In my case, employing him is completely justified because he has the skills for the job and works hard. He has a degree in economics and has his own political expertise.”

Other MPs employing family include Rother Valley MP Kevin Barron, whose wife Andree Deane is his parliamentary assistant.

Meg Munn employs her husband Dennis Bates and sister-in-law Deborah Stenton.

Sheffield Council Liberal Democrat opposition leader, Coun Shaffaq Mohammed, said: “These new figures reveal that when it comes to getting a job working for a Sheffield Labour MP, it pays to be a member of the family.

“You have to wonder what the selection process involved and who else was in the running to get these jobs?

“The £40,000 that Angela Smith pays her Sheffield Labour councillor husband is particularly eyebrow-raising.”

David Blunkett is revealed as Sheffield’s cheapest MP, claiming £36,505 in expenses in 2012/13.

He said: “I am able to keep my costs down by contributing personally, as I am fortunate enough to be able to do so because of my speaking and writing engagements.”