Latest Expenses & Allowances
Extracted from the Just Stan website - 14th September 2014
MPs EXPENSES 2013-2014
IPSA has just published the aggregated expenses data for MPs for 2013-2014.
Peter Hain's total expenses claims are as follows:
Office Costs £20,470.20
Staffing costs £150,612.20 (see footnote at end of article)
Grand total £188,752.37
MP Salary £66.396.00
So - in his penultimate financial year as an MP he has now exceeded the £250K a year cost to the taxpayer for him and his "services". Incredible.
(Last year, 2012-2013 the equivalent figure was £248,918.91)
In the footnote to this article Peter Hain points out an exceptional reason for his high staffing costs this year. However, his staffing costs for the previous financial year, 2012-2013 were again high in comparison with other MPs, actually being the highest of the 40 MPs in Wales. That year they were over £142K.
For the last financial year 2013-2014, when we take out the MP salary, Hain was the second highest costing of 40 MPs representing constituencies in Wales, the highest being Chris Ruane (Labour), MP for the Vale of Clwyd. His claims amounted to £189,334.67 against Hain's figure of £188,752.37. These two were both in first and second place the previous financial year also.
Oil and Electricity Bills
As usual Peter Hain has kept himself (and presumably his paying guests) warm in his second home throughout one of the mildest winters I can remember. His oil bills only came to £1,937.25! THAT'S OVER £37 A WEEK, EVERY WEEK. But once again he was the second highest claimant in Parliament, beaten again into second place by Tory millionaire Andrew Robathan. It was a close run thing though - Peter nearly caught him up - Robathan claiming £2,106.50. Hain's electricity, despite those solar panels, came to £740.45. THAT'S £14 A WEEK, EVERY WEEK. How is this possible on a home that is supposed to be occupied less than half the week?
That is a total of £2,677.70 on oil and electric - nearly £2K less than the year before. BUT STILL OVER £51 A WEEK - EVERY WEEK OF THE YEAR. Well done, Peter. But still well over twice what the bulk of his constituents spend on these items I would hazard a guess. And for a house classed as a second home because he spends most of the week in Westminster. It just doesn't make sense. Someone MUST be there during the week, surely, to come up with those figures. Otherwise he can look to just about double those costs if he was there permanently.
Here are some other very interesting facts and figures amongst his claims.
Home and Office Insurance
Amazingly his home and contents insurance is now a staggering £1,124.62 - all of which we pay for him. I wonder if we are paying for any increased element arising from the letting out of the granny annexe for holidays? Because if we are, that presumably would be breaking the rules, wouldn't it?
And on his office - that scruffy looking, ground floor let from the Labour Party at 39 Windsor Road, Neath - the insurance bill (contents only according to the IPSA claim category) comes to £1,481.86. The insurance companies must love this guy. Over £2,600 to insure his second home and office - all of which we are paying. At those prices you'd think Hain was storing some priceless world treasure at the premises - got to be something connected to Mandela, hasn't it? That's what really annoys me - it's too easy if the money is not your own just to renew last year's policy. Try GoCompare - the comparison website fronted by that irritating Welshman in the advertisements. That's what us plebs have to do each year.
I'm not letting this one go yet. Go on to IPSA's site and check out what MPs have claimed for Contents Insurance on their offices. The next closest figure you'll find to Hain's is £789.54 for Heidi Alexander, MP for Lewisham East. I concede there may be one or two in excess, though not greatly, of this figure as some MPs claim on a monthly or quarterly basis so it's difficult to come up with final figures with my basic Excel skills. I'm not usually a betting man but I will take a bet on this. He is the highest claimant for Office Contents Insurance. One of my trusty comparables, John Mann, claimed £431.08 - a full £1,050 less than Hain. Guess what - it looks like they use the same firm!
Another one jumping out this year are claims for "Approved Security Measures" on his "second home". Two payments have been made to Hain, the first in May 2013, classed as an ADT Intruder Alarm Annual Maintenance, (my underlining) and amounting to a staggering £931.80. WTF!! I bet I could get a complete new alarm system fitted for that. What on earth is going on there?
Then, in January 2014 a far more modest sum claimed - only £129.60, under the note "Charges for Security System".
Now let's move back to his office costs and take a closer look.
Surgery cards and posters, January 2014 - £643.20. Never, ever seen one anywhere. And after 23 years of the Rt Hon Rent-a-Quote appearing seemingly every week in our papers, on our TV sets constantly, having his own MP website (paid for by us) - well excuse me - if people don't know who he is and how to get hold of him by now then they don't deserve to have a bloody vote!
That's not all though. Don't forget two further claims @ £240 each for further surgery advertisements, one of which was in NPT Hospital according to records.
So £1,123.20 creamed off the taxpayer so we don't forget who he is.
Then his computer hardware has obviously been playing up. A new laptop in February 2014 @ £499.95, then a replacement PC in March 2014 @ £988.76. Bit of bad luck there - not for him but for us who picked up the tab.
Electricity and gas
Got to keep all those staff in the office comfortable though. So we have electricity bills of £594.24, and gas bills of £1,114.84. Now this is developing into a farce. Over £1,700 in a year for electricity and gas on a ground floor office only open part of the week. Someone is seriously taking the piss now! Last winter was one of the mildest ever. Did we even have a frost? Yet we are turned over for a gas bill of over £1,100. And the argument may come back - well one of the 3 gas bills paid that year was the early part of the financial year so really related to the previous winter. Nice try but doesn't get you off the hook. You see, the gas bills in the previous two financial years were £1,194.63 and £863.85. The staff there are seriously in need of some thermal underwear. Better still - employ some Inuits!
Don't run away though - I have more.
The claims under telephone usage/rental come to £3,250.79. Yes - in a part time office, occupied by Hain's staff. Unbelievable. All I can think of is there is more than one line there and they phone each other all day rather than say across the desks - your turn to put the kettle on or mine? They must be on those damn phones every minute they are there, one telling the other what happened in Coronation Street, then Eastenders. Come to think of it - has anyone ever checked if the place is actually used or if this is some cruel hoax being played on the poor constituents of Neath?
Stationery purchases - £1,422.86. Say no more. I know paper is expensive these days. We spend a lot on toilet paper and kitchen roll in our house. Come to think of it - I wonder if they claim for these items too - but under what heading?
£764.87 billed for "Security". Why? He's never there, it's just a part time office - as far as I know. There are security shutters on the premises, local CCTV and the Police Station's just down the road - what more could you want? Obviously a lot more, by the expenses bills we are picking up.
Ah - this is a good one. We not only pay for a TV licence at Hain's second home but we also pay for one in his office. What sort of job is it where you get paid for watching TV then? Why do you need one? And - if you are on the phone all day, as his staff must surely be, you don't get much time to watch Jeremy Kyle, do you? But there's internet there anyway, and computers (all paid for by us). Put a live news stream on that and save yourself the costs of the TV and licence. But I suppose it's a snip at £145.50 though - especially when there are so many opportunities to see your boss in all his splendour. At least you know that if he's on the TV being interviewed in London, he ain't going to walk in and catch you doing the crossword or Sudoku - or more likely on the phone to your colleague across the room talking about the Soaps!
Bins and Tower Fans
Then a couple of classics.
October 2013 - bins from Wilkinsons - £16. Wonder what happened to the old ones? What's this one? Two months later a bill for £78 for waste disposal, ha ha. Must have been pretty big bins then! I used to get a mini-skip for about £100 but now I just dump my rubbish in the countryside (it's a joke!).
Then back in August 2013? Well, it's tower fans from B and Q at £59.96. Must have got too warm there, perhaps with all that gas being burned and presumably the hot air in those constant telephone conversations. Perhaps that explains those ridiculous electricity bills - it's the tower fans that are the reason. In our house we open a window and tilt the blinds if it's too warm - but then, it's our own money paying the bill.
And Peter Hain espouses his green credentials. Poppycock. The only green I see in all of this relates to those suckers who give him their vote.
Employing a "connected party"
Under IPSA rules you are allowed to employ one relative, known as a "connected party". (The rules define just what is classified as same).
This year Hain has joined (once again) the 1 in 4 MPs who employ family members. The records show he employed a "connected party" as a Junior Secretary, presumably in his Constituency office in Neath. IPSA records reveal the name of the person but it is not something I feel is appropriate for this article. You only need to know she is Hain's niece. The salary she received in that financial year (2013-2014) was between £5K and £10K. We do not know from IPSA when she started this work. Hain's sister Sally has worked for him in the past. Hain's mother Adelaine also worked for him for 18 years, retiring at the age of 82 in 2009. He has also employed his son Samuel in the past as well. They say charity begins at home. I wish I'd had a well-paid public sector job where I could have employed most of my family too.
So there we have it. My take on Hain's expenses for last year. Nothing new here - we've seen and heard it all before. Time to move on.
Thankfully by this time next year he will be gone, at least no longer my MP. Presumably to take up a seat in the Lords and numerous non-executive appointments on Company Boards. If you thought he was pulling in the money whilst our MP it will be nothing compared to what's to come. I don't care who picks up his pay cheque in the private sector. He has certainly put himself about enough never to have to worry about paying those oil bills. What I object to is the seemingly cavalier way that MPs have dealt with the use of public money in the past and the lack of transparency. I just hope that whoever replaces Peter Hain in Neath is more in touch with its hard done by electorate and has Inuit blood in their veins. He won't be missed by me.
Since drafting the above the Neath Ferret has received a press release from Peter Hain, relating to reasons why his staffing costs have been higher than anticipated this year. The statement also appears on his website.
The full content of the statement is reproduced below:
Press Release 12 September 2014
"In 2013/14 my staffing costs were unusually high because a member of my staff was diagnosed with cancer requiring immediate hospitalisation for major surgery and subsequent adjuvant therapy. Temporary secretarial cover was required at short notice to cover the period of leave as is provided for in the rules to enable me to continue to serve my constituents until my staff member had fully recovered and returned to work."
Stan wishes the member of staff concerned a full and speedy recovery. There will probably not be a family around whose lives have not been affected by this awful disease.