Monday, 3 August 2015

Should expenses be means-tested?

MPs' salaries jumped up to £74k recently. And some of them are still claiming nearly half as much again for expenses. And the same is true of the House of Lords, where peers can claim up to £300/day for attendance, no questions asked - although they aren't paid a salary on top of that.

We think this is a classic example of a broken system. If there are people out there claiming hundreds of pounds for short journeys made by car or on foot, the system is clearly being exploited. So we think that the public bodies that deal with MPs' and peers' expenses could emulate the finance departments of large companies. Just as those companies are ultimately responsible to their shareholders, the Members of the two Houses are ultimately responsible to the taxpayer. This means that all expenses claims should be investigated, especially if they're large.

So, should expenses for MPs and peers be gotten rid of altogether? We're not sure. They are paid a lot and there are definitely plenty of MPs from wealthy backgrounds, but there are also people like 20-year old Mhairi Black.

Perhaps means-testing would be a better solution. The expenses system has been a sore spot since the scandals of 2009. If taxpayers didn't feel like they were subsidising the lifestyles of the rich, but that they were supporting MPs from different backgrounds according to their circumstances, they might be happier with it.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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