The importance of openness
I believe that the best way of building public trust in politics and politicians is through openness and honesty, especially when it comes to expenses and the reasons for claiming them.
The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) publishes details of all MPs’ expenses every two months on their website. I fully support this openness and the opportunity that it gives constituents to have access to the details of how I spend public funds.
Since 2010 IPSA, which is entirely independent of Parliament, Government and all political parties, has had the responsibility for setting the rules and administering the allowances associated with the work of MPs – including setting the salaries of MPs and our staff.
My allowances and pay as MP for Sheffield Central
MPs have expenses and allowances to enable us to do our job. These cover staffing, office costs, accommodation and travel to and from the constituency. Claims are paid on production of an invoice or receipt, and are thoroughly checked by IPSA. I always apply the principle of best value to decisions I make which involve the use of public money.
I am paid an annual salary of £77,379, which is set independently of MPs by IPSA. In 2015 IPSA decided to increase the salary of MPs from £67,086 to £74,000 – while cutting back pensions and some expenses. Like many colleagues, I urged IPSA not to implement their proposals, because it was unacceptable when other public sector pay was being held down, and would further undermine confidence in democratic politics. Despite our pressure, IPSA went ahead with the pay rise. The net increase in my salary was £288 per month and I will be donating more than this sum to good causes throughout the duration of this Parliament. There is more information about MPs’ pay here.
I do not receive any additional remuneration for any of the extra responsibilities that I have taken on in Parliament (Shadow Minister on Brexit; my roles with All Party Parliamentary Groups; or when I was a BIS Select Committee member).
I do not have and will not take on any second job outside of Parliament.
My constituency office
My constituency office at Unit 4, Edmund Rd Business Centre, 135 Edmund Rd, Sheffield S2 4ED is staffed and open to the public five days a week throughout the year, with a short closure between Christmas and New Year. I hold Advice Surgeries at my office twice a month – in addition to the range of other ways I keep in touch with constituents: street surgeries, coffee mornings, community meetings and my annual community consultation, the Big Conversation.
Through IPSA I claim expenses to pay for the running of my office. The expenses pay for the office rent, for service charges, business rates, utilities (gas, electricity and water), telephone and broadband rental and call costs, insurance, and room hire for surgeries etc. They also pay suppliers and shops for things like furniture, stationery, paper, printer toners, office equipment, cleaning and cleaning materials. In short, they pay for the things that allow me to run an effective office.
My staff team in Sheffield comprises four people, two full time and two part time. I also have one full time member of staff in Westminster. IPSA has approved the job descriptions and contractual arrangements of all members of my staff. All staff are paid salaries within the IPSA recommended salary bands according to their job role, qualifications and experience.
My job as an MP involves rail travel predominantly between Sheffield and Westminster and I claim expenses to cover these fares.
My family home is in Sheffield where I live with my wife in a house which we jointly own. I do not claim any expenses in relation to this house because the costs do not relate to me being an MP. I claim expenses on a one-bedroom former council flat in London which I rent, because as an MP I am usually required to work in Westminster four days a week. If I was not an MP, I would not need this flat. I claim for the rent, council tax and water charges for this flat.