Page last updated at 14:36 GMT, Monday, 29 March 2010 15:36 UK

MPs' expenses: Old rules v new rules

A new system of MPs' expenses has been published that will come into force after the general election. So, how does it differ from the old, much criticised, system?

The old rule The new rule

All MPs, except those with seats in inner London, could claim £24,000 a year towards buying, furnishing and renovating a second home. They could claim for mortgage interest, furniture, cleaning, gardening and utility bills and keep profits on sales. Interim rules agreed in April 2009 reduced this to £1,250 a month for mortgage, rent, hotel costs and bills only. MPs will only be allowed to claim up to £1,450 a month - the equivalent of a one-bedroom flat - to rent a "second home". MPs with constituencies within 20 miles or 60 minutes of Westminster will not be allowed to claim at all. Claims for gardening and cleaning will not be allowed. Those who already own taxpayer-funded homes can keep claiming until August 2012.

MPs with seats in London could claim £7,500 instead of the larger second homes allowance - it had been just £2,916 but went up in April. Sir Ian accepted a proposal this should be reduced to the level recommended by the Senior Salaries Review Body - £3,760.

MPs were previously allowed to keep any profits on homes and did not have to pay capital gains tax, some made profits of tens of thousands of pounds. The practice was criticised during the expenses scandal. MPs who keep their seats and already own taxpayer-funded homes can continue to claim until August 2012 but Sir Ian said profits made would be "recouped". Exact details of how he will do this have not be outlined.

Ministers who had the use of 'grace and favour homes' had been allowed to claim costs for a second home as well. Anyone with grace and favour homes will not be able to claim any accommodation expenses.

MPs were allowed to recruit their own staff and employ spouses, children and other relatives - paid for by the taxpayer. About 250 chose to do so and some employed more than one relative. Sir Ian rejected a proposal to ban the practice entirely. Instead MPs will be able to employ a maximum of one blood relative, spouse, co-habitee or financial partner but with strict terms and no bonuses allowed.

MPs who shared the same second home could both claim the maximum allowance - about £24,000 each. Interim rules brought in after the expenses scandal reduced this to one allowance between them. Under new rules MPs sharing rental accommodation must declare it and between them claim a maximum of one and a third of an MP's accommodation budget.

MPs were allowed to claim for all travel costs for parliamentary duties between their home, constituency and office, could claim to travel first class. They could also claim for their families to travel first class. MPs to pay for their own daily commute, can claim for trips between London and constituencies and up to three return trips to EU institutions. They can claim for first-class rail travel only if it is cheaper than the price of an open standard ticket.

MPs who lost their seat or retired, were entitled to a "resettlement grant" of between 50% and 100% of their salary - depending on age and how long they'd been an MP. For some it would be £64,000 - the first £30,000 of which was tax-free. No resettlement grants will be paid out under the new expenses scheme, although if the expenses body gets control of MPs' salaries it will look at the matter again.

A fairly new allowance, MPs were able to claim £10,400 a year to "boost public understanding of Parliament". It could not be spent on party political material and some MPs had to pay it back after having been found to have broken that rule. The separate budget will be scrapped but the cost of running a website, advertising constituency meetings and producing contact cards will be recognised a general admin budget of £10,394 a year, which also covers office equipment and services

Until recently, MPs did not have to supply receipts for anything costing less than £250, that was reduced to £25 in April 2008 but were still able to claim £25 a night for food without receipts. Receipts to be required for all claims - MPs will be allowed up to £15 for an evening meal, when the Commons sits past 7.30pm, but only if they provide a receipt.

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