Out of touch politicians still think the old expenses system worked

While most Members of Parliament accept that the expenses scandal meant that reform of the system was needed, there are some in Westminster who long for a return to the ‘good old days’. Following the Telegraph’s revelations in 2009, it was widely hoped that all Members would accept change as necessary. But a new survey has shown that nearly a fifth of MPs still believe they shouldn't be made to show receipts when submitting expense claims.

A report by the National Audit Office also revealed that 23% of Members felt the pre-2009 free-for-all system was fit for purpose. Over 90% of MPs who responded said that they had to subsidise constituency work themselves. While of course they shouldn’t be abusing the system, they should be able to work in a system where they can claim, and receive, what is owed to them. However, given the scale of the important national issues MPs are dealing with, those who feel they should be entitled to abuse the system must accept that they should be no different to their constituents, who provide receipts for work-related expenses with no fuss at all.

This all coincides with the news that MPs on the Commons Members’ Expenses Committee are set to look into the work of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA). IPSA can operate more efficiently to help MPs who do want to behave responsibly to do so. Stories of how difficult it has been to work with them, particularly from the early days, are extremely disappointing. We can also look at changing the system with payment cards that can combine almost instant transparency with administrative efficiency.

A few MPs want to get their snouts back in the trough and go back to the expenses dark ages. We need to make sure the rest can get on with the job and taxpayers can be reassured their money isn’t being abused.

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