MP expenses: Sheffield MPs scold 'inappropriate' Christmas dinners announcement during cost-of-living crisis

Opposition MPs in Sheffield have scolded the Government’s announcement that members this year can claim their Christmas dinners and parties back on expenses.
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For the first time, MPs will be able to claim Christmas party items for staff gatherings this year – and hand the bill to taxpayers. The decision came in a statement by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) this week when it was asked what could and could not be claimed.

Items including food and soft drinks for staff parties, decorations such as tinsel, and Christmas trees can be claimed. IPSA also asked MPs that their claims “should represent value for money, especially in the current economic climate.”

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The decision has been scolded by opposition party members nationwide, calling it “tone-deaf” during the cost of living crisis. Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, said there was “no clamour for this from MPs” and had “literally never heard anyone” asking for it.

Sheffield MPs have criticised guidance saying they can claim expenses for Christmas partiesSheffield MPs have criticised guidance saying they can claim expenses for Christmas parties
Sheffield MPs have criticised guidance saying they can claim expenses for Christmas parties

Sheffield's MPs have also questioned the clarification. All four The Star could reach – Clive Betts, Gill Furniss, Louise Haigh and Paul Blomfield – stated they would not be claiming any Christmas items through expenses.

When asked why the guidance was being issued for the first time this year, MP for Sheffield South East, Mr Betts, said: “Not a clue. They haven’t consulted or advised us. I don’t plan to claim for my Christmas dinners, not this year or any future year.

“I think it's completely inappropriate at a time when many people are struggling to buy food for there weekly shop and it’s inappropriate for taxpayers’ money to pay for this.”

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Louise Haigh, MP for Sheffield Heeley, called the guidance “completely inappropriate in the middle of a deep cost-of-living crisis” and stated the Chair of the Parliamentary Labour Party has written to IPSA to urge them to reconsider the “ludicrous rule”.

Gill Furniss, Labour MP for Hillsborough and Brightside, said she “never asked for this” and was “unaware of any MP that has”.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warned MPs they would need to “justify all spending to their constituents”. His spokesperson said: “The PM certainly doesn’t intend to use this and his view is that MPs will want to justify all spending to their constituents.”