Is it fair for MPs to claim expenses for their children?
George Osborne and Ed Miliband among 148 MPs claiming money for their younger families
THE Parliamentary pay watchdog is allowing almost 150 MPs to claim expenses associated with their children's accommodation and travel.
Chancellor George Osborne was among 148 MPs – with 300 children between them – who registered their "dependants" so they could claim more cash, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa), which monitors MPs' pay and expenses, has said that the arrangements are within the rules. But critics have nevertheless labelled the expenses as "unfair".
It is thought that nine ministers, as well as senior Labour figures Ed Miliband, Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper, were among those who made claims in order to rent larger family-friendly properties or pay for their children's travel. The allowances come as MPs look likely to receive a £10,000 pay rise.
Many MPs, who have a basic wage of £66,000, insist they should be compensated for the costs because they are required to have two homes.
Since 2010, MPs have reportedly claimed almost £140,000 for their children's travel. They can also claim up to £2,425 for each child who 'routinely resides' with them. However, more than 90 MPs are believed to have claimed above the accommodation cap of £20,000 a year.
Laura Perkins, a barrister who confronted Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on his LBC radio phone-in show about benefit changes, told the Telegraph: "At a time when the finances for ordinary families are so tight, they need to think long and hard about whether what they are doing is fair. Every other family is having to meet expenses out of their ordinary salary."
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Expenses are there to cover extra costs, not subsidise luxury apartments at taxpayers' expense."
But Caron Lindsay, co-editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, has said the expenses are "worth paying". She argued that removing these allowances might reduce the variety of MPs in Parliament, putting off parents with young children from standing. "On this one, I'd say leave them alone."