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Taxpayers foot £300k energy bill for MPs’ second homes

MPs have charged taxpayers almost £300,000 for energy bills and other utilities at their second homes over the past year, a new analysis by The Independent has found.

Campaigners said the record-high figure shows that Britain’s politicians are “insulated” from the cost of living crisis, with a large portion of their energy costs covered by the public purse while millions struggle to pay bills.

Senior Tories Suella Braverman, James Cleverly, Alex Chalk, Victoria Prentis, Alister Jack and James Heappey are among senior figures who claim gas and electricity costs at their second homes.

MPs’ claims for gas, electricity and water amounted to £292,000 in 2022-23, according to an analysis of data from the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

It marks a significant increase on last year’s bill for MPs’ utilities, which totalled £253,000 – a reflection of the spike in gas and electricity prices since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

MPs have claimed more than £1m to pay utility bills at their second homes in the past four years (Getty)
MPs have claimed more than £1m to pay utility bills at their second homes in the past four years (Getty)

Ruth London, founder of the Fuel Poverty Action campaign group, said the expenses figures showed that MPs “live in a different world from most of the people they are paid to represent”.

The campaigner added: “As more and more people find energy bills unpayable, this difference only grows greater. Claims that the pressure is easing do not help when in reality it’s only getting worse.”

Politicians with seats outside London are allowed to put utility costs at one of their homes on expenses – whether it is in London or in their constituency.

The Independent’s analysis shows that MPs have claimed more than £1m to pay utility bills at their second homes in the past four years.

Ms Braverman charged the taxpayer £10,280 for gas and electricity costs since 2019-2020.

Suella Braverman is among highest spenders on taxpayer-funded fuel bills (PA Wire)
Suella Braverman is among highest spenders on taxpayer-funded fuel bills (PA Wire)

Records also show that home secretary Mr Cleverly has put more than £6,550 of his energy bills on expenses since 2019-2020, while justice secretary Alex Chalk has charged £3,735 for utilities at his second home.

Liz Truss – the former PM who blocked a windfall tax on the energy giants, saying she didn’t “believe” in it – put £3,220 worth of energy bills at her Norfolk constituency home on expenses during the period.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock has been one of the highest spenders on utilities since 2019 – racking up taxpayer-funded fuel and water bills of £9,380 at his constituency home.

Labour frontbenchers Angela Rayner, Ed Miliband, Liz Kendall, Louise Haigh, Hilary Benn, Nick Thomas-Symonds and Pat McFadden are among the senior party figures who put in similar claims.

Labour‘s deputy leader Angela Rayner has claimed more than £4,000 for utilities at her London home in the past four years (PA Wire)
Labour‘s deputy leader Angela Rayner has claimed more than £4,000 for utilities at her London home in the past four years (PA Wire)

Ms Rayner, the deputy Labour leader, has claimed more than £4,000 for utilities at her London home in the past four years. Mr Miliband, the shadow climate secretary, has charged just over £2,600 to the taxpayer in the period.

Simon Francis, coordinator of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, said: “While MPs are insulated from the pain of the energy bills crisis, their constituents have been paying twice what they were a couple of years ago for their electricity and gas.”

He called on MPs to help “reform Britain’s broken energy system” – urging them to back moves to ease utility bill debt and improve the energy efficiency of rented properties.

John O’Connell, chief executive of campaigning group the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Although energy prices are coming down, MPs are still being insulated from persistently high costs that taxpayers are having to bear the brunt of.”

Mr O’Connell called on parliamentary authorities to “consider whether these expense rules are too generous” on second homes.

While water bills have remained steady, MPs’ gas and electricity costs have jumped over the past year. Energy bills charged to taxpayers rose from £195,000 in 2021-22 to £241,000 in the past year.

The Independent has contacted the MPs mentioned in this piece for comment.