Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Monday, 30 March 2009 13:58 UK

What expenses can MPs claim for?

Houses of Parliament
Controversy surrounds MPs' pay

A series of controversies over expenses for MPs has led to careful scrutiny of just what they can claim for. What are the rules on allowances around the UK?

UK PARLIAMENT

MPs are paid an annual salary of £63,291 and receive allowances for the costs of running an office.

MPs' expenses at Westminster have been published annually under nine main headings - including a second homes allowance, travel costs, staff pay and stationery.

In 2007 - the last year for which figures are available - claims ranged from the lowest of £44,551 to the highest of £185,421.

On average, each MP claimed £135,600.

MPs who do not represent inner London constituencies are entitled to claim up to about £24,000 a year towards the cost of a second home, or rented property - usually claimed for a property near Westminster.

It allows claims for items like televisions, furniture, new kitchens and includes a £25-a-day "subsistence allowance", for food, coffees and other items on days of parliamentary business.

Receipts are not required on items worth less than £25.

MPs can also claim for subscription television services but they have to be used wholly, exclusively and necessarily to perform their duties.

Travel costs

MPs are given up to £90,505 a year to employ staff and there is no rule against employing family members although they are named and put on a register.

Travel expenses are broken down into different headings, such as car, rail and European travel, when the claims are published and are not limited.

MPs can claim business-class air fares and first-class rail travel for parliamentary business within the UK and up to three visits a year to European institutions, as well as up to 15 return journeys a year for spouses or children.

Other expenses claimed by MPs include a £2,812 London supplement for MPs representing inner London seats, a stationery allowance, an IT allowance of up to £3,000 and a £10,000-a-year communications allowance.

MPs who lose their seat or stand down at a general election are also entitled to a "resettlement allowance" worth between 50% and 100% of their annual salary.

SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

MSPs get paid £55,381 - it is linked to Westminster MPs' salaries, if they get a rise, so do MSPs.

Allowances are stricter and are due to tighten up further after the next election when MSPs will not be able to claim mortgage payments at all, only rent for a second home.

At the moment the limit for accommodation allowances is £11,900 and you have to live a certain distance away from the Parliament to be able to claim it.

MSPs also have to provide receipts for everything and these are all published quarterly.

They can claim up to £56,000 a year for office and staff costs.

Under the new scheme MSPs cannot claim for travel costs of relatives.

WELSH ASSEMBLY

Assembly members are paid £50,692.

Those who represent seats outside Cardiff can claim £13,000 a year for second homes - like Westminster MPs they can use it to claim for mortgage interest, rent or TVs and bathroom refurbishment.

They can also claim up to £15,000 to maintain their constituency office and can employ up to three full time staff, whose salaries must be within set scales.

They are entitled to travel claims throughout the UK when on assembly business.

They can claim up to 12 single journeys a year for a partner or a child and up to 18 return journeys for staff. Members journeys are not capped.

NORTHERN IRELAND ASSEMBLY

MLAs are paid £42,461 and do not get a second homes allowance.

They can claim up to £72,000 a year for an office costs allowance to cover staffing, renting and equipment for their constituency bases, bills and stationery.

They can also claim for some refreshments for visitors and TVs and radios for the constituency offices.

They do not get a second homes allowance.

They can also claim expenses for travel while on assembly duties.

Like Westminster MPs those who step down or lose their seat are entitled to a "resettlement allowance" based on their length of service which amounts to between 50% and 100% of their salary.



Print Sponsor



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific