Page last updated at 16:37 GMT, Tuesday, 24 November 2009

George Osborne's mortgage overclaim 'a mistake'

George Osborne
Mr Osborne said the story came about because of Tory 'transparency'

George Osborne's office has said an expenses claim made by the shadow chancellor which exceeded the monthly limit was a "submission in error".

The Mirror said he tried to claim £1,400 to cover the mortgage interest on his second home for October.

But a new cap on mortgage claims of £1,250 was introduced in May and his claim was reduced accordingly.

His office said it was a mistake, no extra money was paid out and Mr Osborne had put the claim online himself.

A spokesman said details of the expense claim had been available for weeks.

'Can't add up'

Asked about the story in the Daily Mirror on Tuesday, Mr Osborne said his office had put out a statement and he had nothing further to add.

He said the matter only came to light because of the Conservative frontbench policy of publishing all expenses online and was a case of "transparency in action".

But Lib Dem MP Norman Baker told the Mirror: "George Osborne has either shown a cavalier disregard for the new rules or that he can't add up which is not very encouraging in a shadow chancellor."

BBC News chief political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg said the story was a bit embarrassing for Mr Osborne but it appeared to have been a mistake.

MPs were able to recoup the cost of mortgage interest on their second homes through the additional cost allowance - up to the limit of £24,000 a year.

But temporary changes were agreed in May to the ACA, amid huge public anger at the MPs' expenses scandal.

Among them were new limits on mortgage interest and rent payment claims of £1,250 a month.

The interim limits are still in place while a new expenses system is worked out.

A six-month inquiry into MPs' allowances recommended that all mortgage interest payments be stopped, and rental payments remain capped.

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