The pricey perks of a member of parliament

Political debate in the UK before the general election centred on property – more specifically, the property perks allowed for members of parliament. Abuses of allowances, sales of taxpayer-funded homes at large profits and allowing family members to use property supposedly for the MPs themselves lie at the heart of the controversy. So with a new government comes a new expenses regime.

If you're an expat reader of Emirates Business, how does the new UK system rank against yours?

- Second homes: Those MPs outside a 20-mile/60-minute radius of Westminster can claim up to £1,450 a month to rent a second home. Claims for gardening and cleaning are no longer allowed. Long-standing MPs who own taxpayer-funded homes from before the 2010 election can continue claiming public money for those homes until August 2012;

- London MPs: Those MPs with constituencies inside the 20-mile/60-minute radius can claim £3,760 per year towards their housing costs;

- Capital gains: It is not yet clear what, if any, measure will be taken against long-standing MPs whose taxpayer-funded homes from the 'old regime' will produce capital gains for them when they sell;

- Grace and favour homes: Any minister with a grace and favour home (one that comes with a specific government job) will not be able to claim any accommodation expenses. This is a complete reversal of the old regime, where the full second home costs (then £24,000 a year) could be claimed;

- Co-Habiting MPs: MPs sharing rental accommodation (either because they are personal partners or simply flat-sharers) can claim no more than one and a third of an MP's accommodation budget in total. Under the old system, they could each claim the £24,000 second home allowance.

Remember too that there are many other allowances no connected with property, and that an MP's salary is £65,738 – or much higher if the MP is a party leader or holds a government position.


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