Friday, August 06, 2010

IPSA Has Become the Problem, Not the Solution

Yesterday morning, I received this email from a friend of mine who works as secretary for a Conservative MP.

Yesterday, xxxxxx asked me to find out from IPSA about the deadline for filing claims. I have been put on hold twice for 15 minutes, listening to piped music. I have also e-mailed twice. No reply. The Fees Office would have picked up the phone in a minute and answered on the spot.

This morning she emailed back to say that they still hadn't returned the call. Also yesterday Denis MacShane and Michael Fabricant both wrote letters to the Telegraph pointing out IPSA's failings. So I decided to do an hour's phone in last night on LBC asking people if they had any more sympathy for MPs now, than they did at the time of the expenses scandal.

We rang IPSA to ask them to put up a spokesman to defend their position. Strangely, no one was available. So they employ several press officers, are recruiting a Director of Communications at a salary of £85,000 and yet can't or won't put up someone to defend their position.

Needless to say, virtually no callers had any sympathy at all with the predicament some MPs find themselves in. I can't say I was surprised by that, but even so, it's the newly elected MPs I feel sorry for. Many of them are not well heeled financially and are having real problems. Some of them are owed more than £10,000 by IPSA and see no prospect of being reimbursed in the immediate future. And this is not for things you'd ordinarily put on an expenses claim. This is for constituency office rental and paying staff. One MP I know has a secretary who hasn't received a penny from IPSA for her salary since the election as they fail to recognise she is even employed. So the MP is subbing her out of his own pocket and has had to max out on his credit cards. This cannot be right and illustrates what an incompetent shower IPSA are. And yet their chief executive fails to realise the extent of the problem.

Sir Alastair Graham, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, came on the programme and he also thought IPSA was failing. He blamed it on the way it was set up in haste by Gordon Brown. He reckoned that the basic problem was that it was expected to be both administrator and regulator.

IPSA is costing us £6 million a year to run, three times more than the old Fees Office. It seems to me it is out of control and more or less impervious to criticism. It treats its MP 'clients' with utter disdain and contempt and appears to believe it can do what it likes. Someone needs to reign it in. And do it quickly.

UPDATE: Read THIS article on the Tribune site headed IS IPSA GOING TO LET ME STARVE? to see how MPs' staff are being affected. The anonymous author writes...
IPSA was created as a knee-jerk response to public outrage. Bad legislation is something that can sometimes be repented at leisure, but this body is an abomination; bloated beyond control by its sense of moral self-importance. Tory blogger Iain Dale has brought a video to wider attention on his website. This shows Ken Osila, a member of the IPSA board, desperately trying to
justify IPSA’s inflated salaries and vast, bureaucratic machine. Labour created this and the party should now show the moral courage necessary to undo the harm it has caused.

Politics is in danger of becoming the province of the rich. That might suit the current Cabinet, but would be very bad for the rest of us. The system of parliamentary expenses has moved from one extreme to the other – from a chaotic vacuum to a bureaucratic nightmare.


UPDATE: LabourList have also written along similar lines HERE.

58 comments:

Bishop Brennan said...

Whilst I do have some sympathy for MPs' staff and - just about - new MPs, I think some libertarian bloggers (e.g. DK) have correctly made the point that MPs are now experiencing what the rest of us face when dealing with officialdom - the lesson that they should take is that the need for the public to deal with such officials should be reduced to the bare minimum. And that poor customer service should be tackled urgently by government bodies...

jamescbartlett said...

The problem Cameron or whoever has got when considering sorting IPSA out is that the press will immediately jump on them and say "MPs don't like the 'real world' of having to claim for expenses properly and so are abolishing the body setup exactly for that purpose. What a waste of money, blah, blah, blah." So either way they can't win at present and I believe they'll have to struggle on with the current 'system' for a while yet until something happens where an MP is declared bankrupt or something purely due to an IPSA foul up. It's wrong, I know, but with the press still on the back of MPs, it's going to be tricky to doing anything with IPSA for a while with the press like they are.

Pogo said...

Whilst one must admit to more than a touche of schadenfreude at seeing MPs having to deal with an institution as useless, inefficient and overbearing as those the normal taxpayer is faced with, I can't help but think that IPSA is a true, Brown-derived, abomination.

That an organisation that is basically doing the same job that normal industry devolves to relatively junior clerks, for a very small number of people - a few thousand at most - and yet manages to cost six million quid a year to run, needs a "Director of Communications" and "Press Officers" leaves me wondering WTF!

Shut the whole damned thing down and put the job out to tender. Any half-decent firm of accountants would do a better job for less than a tenth of the price.

PJH said...

My heart bleeds. Really it does.

It's about time MPs got a taste of what the proles have to put up with when they contact government departments.

And stop it with the sob stories. MPs get more than sufficient salary without expenses to cover anything they may need to cover.

The fact that some are a little less financially literate than they should be (in one maxing out credit cards? LOLWUT? I bet the other 649 aren't) should not be a cause for them to start bleating about late expenses.

Welcome to the real world guys. This is what MPs have foisted upon their employers (us) for years. Perhaps they'll learn something when it comes to how we have to deal with the other departments they have control over.

Oh, who am I kidding?

Woodsy42 said...

Sorry, no sympathy here.
Ipsa sounds essentially no different to the systems parliament has foisted on the public - unaccountable, inefficient, uncaring and burdensome to use.
While I'm sorry for the new MPs trying to pay staff I see no real difference between that and the small business waiting for a tax rebate.
Please explain why one is acceptable while the other is not.
Just be thankful that ipsa does not (yet) make a 'penalty charge' for lateness or errors.
The Mps should stop whinging and treat this as an object lesson. Meanwhile I wonder what bonus the boss of ipsa expects.

Matthew said...

Thanks for linking to the Tribune article, which raises an important aspect of the whole IPSQ debacle: internships. I blogged a while ago about my experiences trying to get an internship in Parliament, a search which was thwarted several times at the last moment (once after considerable effort by the MP concerned in shortlisting candidates) when the MP in question began to wade through the IPSA quagmire. See hre for more details and a helpful comment from a "Knowledgeable Insider":

http://prologue.squarespace.com/prologue/2010/7/1/long-time-nointernship.html

Lady Finchley said...

PJH - you really don't have a clue do you? Either you are being purposely obtuse or you are really rather thick. In what world does an office worker pay first and then get reimbursed for the paper and pens they use? These are needed to do the work the constituents voted for them to do. Nobody is asking to be exempt from a transparent system - we just want one that is workable. And not have to wait two days for an answer to a simple question.

Office supplies and wages for staff are not expenses, geddit?

George said...

So, IPSA is behind with payments.

Many MP's owe money from their bar bills and entertaining.

HMRC will mkae you wait a year for a refund/rebate.

HMRC will demand instant payment of owed monies.

Companys use debtors to finance their balance sheets.

Whilst unfortunate that's the way of the world. The Fee's Office may well have paid things fast, but it was open to abuse and failed to control expenditure and claims from MP's.
IPSA is also of course a knee jerk rection organisation and is poorly managed and run. Any outside facilities company would do better and at a cheaper cost. Like everything gordo touched its a disaster, over-engineered and highly bureaucratic.

But, I won't extend many tears towards MP's, they've got what they deserved, and a little humility might help whilst they wrestle with the problems that affect the whole population in their dealings with "government"

Gallimaufry said...

Anything that annoys MacShame is a good thing and if that's the Michael Fabricant who took a jar of Coffeemate(white powder)on a walking holiday in Columbia then I'm sure somebody patient will talk s-l-o-w-l-y and fill the forms in for him. MPs have got short memories, they are still on probation for good behaviour and did not escape scot-free from the Expenses and Allowances Scandal.

davidc said...

'Many of them are not well heeled financially -----'

give them time !

Pete said...

"And stop it with the sob stories. MPs get more than sufficient salary without expenses to cover anything they may need to cover."

60-odd grand, I think.

Now *you* think for a change:

Office rent, secretarial assistance, living costs in London, travel from constituency etc. probably would leave them with next to nothing.

Not that I have much sympathy for MPs in general but that was a silly thing to say...

Ken said...

One of the most depressing aspects of being a member of the IPSA is the amount of absolute claptrap peddled by those on the inside of the Westminster village.

The most depressing aspect is the willful disinterest amongst them to seek the truth before commenting on our work.

In my response to your previous blog - the one in which you described me as slippery when answering questions on the Andrew Neil show and in which my choice of neckwear featured as a substantive point of analysis - I made the following offer:

"To demonstrate my commitment to openness and to test yours to the role of facts over rhetoric, I would like to invite you to be my guest at IPSA. You will see how simple the system is and meet staff to hear the scope of their job and the details of the unwelcome challenges which they face every day."

It might not serve the interests of sensationalism, nor the growing chorus of those who have so quickly forgotten the scandal of duck houses, moat cleaning and the John Lewis list - but it surely would be in the interests of truth and informed debate for you to take up my invitation?

Best regards

Tomfiglio said...

I haven't been paid by my clients abroad for four months now because the tax people have yet to provide a form showing I pay tax here. MPs like MacShane have no idea what trying to work in this country is like. I have no sympathy for them. Things only ever get changed in this country if MPS or journos are adversely affected by the situation, so can we now hope for an improvement in the service provided by public agencies?
Oh, who am I kidding?

Iain Dale said...

Ken, I emailed you to do just that but heard nothing back. Just like most of the parliamentary staff who try to get in touch with IPSA. Yu are clearly acting like an strich. There are real issues here yet you stick your head in the sand and deny these problems exist, pretending all is well. It is not.

I will happily come to see how you operate, and invite my parliamentary readers to give me a list of issues to raise with you.

The Grim Reaper said...

So MPs don't like IPSA? Tough.

They're the ones who created this mess in the first place. The old system of expenses could have been made to work if they'd stopped claiming for absolutely bloody everything under the sun. Ideally, there would also have been prosecutions of the worst offenders in order to act as a deterrent to the others. It's what would happen in any private company following an allegation of fraud, so I see no reason why it couldn't have happened here.

But no. MPs decided that, desperate to quell the storm being whipped up by the likes of the Daily Telegraph, that they had to create a completely new body to deal with the problem. A completely unnecessary step which, as usual, they didn't bother to think through. Now they're complaining the body they put in place is crap at its job? They can stew in their own juices.

I can't understand why your senses always leave you on this subject, Iain. You're better than this.

Breaker said...

We have no sympathy at all Iain. Could IPSA do better? Probably.

But hearing politicians squeal about bureaucracy, indifference and excessive cost is music to our ears.

We've been living in this world for years; now we're hoping that MPs will finally understand what we face and draft better thought out laws and procedures for interacting with the state.

IPSA should be the last institution reformed, in order to keep MPs minds focussed on making our lives easier.

As a technologyologist and business analyst, I'd take a half day off work to examine IPSA's systems from a technical architecture / workflow point of view if you and IPSA are tractable.

Unsworth said...

Frankly I'd have doen the job with three decent qualified accountants and about three junors. Cost? A million per year would ensure very high salaries all round, full equipment and software, and decent offices.

Harry said...

Simple solution: Most complaints amount to around £10K outstanding arrears. Why not give all MP's a float of £10k repayable when they leave parliament. initial cost of approx£6.5m can surely be carried, even in these difficult times.
It would also stop the b******s moaning and take the pressure off IPSA in the difficult startup period.
Most MPs on leaving office would have at least £10k available to repay debt.

Harry

Mark M said...

Just shows what a disaster Brown was. His solution is more expensive than the previous one, and it does a worse job. That actually goes for just about anything he touched in government.

What was wrong with simply publishing every claim online, and allowing the taxpayers (you know, those people who pay these expenses) to judge whether it was a legitimate claim?

Lady Finchley said...

So, Ken would you like to let me know why it took three days, three e-mails, two phone calls when I was left waiting on hold for 15 minutes each time to get a reply which did not answer my question in any way, shape or form?

You are running a shambolic, chaotic mess of a so-called organisation. How dare you accuse us of peddling claptrap when you have made it so difficult to do our jobs. BTW, while I was holding for 15 minutes at a time, constituents were trying to get through and of course couldn't. Nice one.

Obnoxio The Clown said...

I have no sympathy at all for MPs. While I said that IPSA was unnecessary and stupid at the time it was created, I now think it should remain as a reminder to MPs about the dangers of knee-jerk, badly-thought-out legislation.

And every whinge from the over-entitled, greedy, mendacious, thieving lobby fodder brings a spring to my step and a lift to my spirits.

Treacle said...

Welcome to the real world. Paying up-front, filling in complicated forms and then waiting six weeks is standard practice everywhere else.

When MPs come back from their three-month holidays at our expense, they will just have to go and console themselves in the House of Commons bar, where again we will be footing the bill.

The Cowboy Online said...

I think Ken should invite along a member of the general public as well, to see how IPSA operates. I have a strong suspicion that the requirements of IPSA are nowhere near as onerous as bleating politicians would have us believe, and is probably a lot more like the expense systems many of us, in the private sector, are used to dealing with. Perhaps the biggest stumbling block faced by MPs is their feeling of entitlement without accountability.

Little Black Sambo said...

Wouldn't it have been enough simply to apply necessary changes in the Fees Office and let them continue to be responsible? Why must every reform mean an increase in cost?

Lady Finchley said...

What the obtuse among you don't get is that it is costing YOU the taxpayer millions more than the Fees Office ever did. And did it occur to you that just like the rest of us, MPs encounter the bureaucracy of HMRC, banks, utiltity companies, mobile phone companies etc. There is no special treatment for them just because they are MPs so just tell me what lesson they are supposed to be learing. As for poor customer service being tacked by Government bodies - are you serious? So the Government should legislate on how long you have to wait to speak to a human being at BT? Get real.

Elby the Beserk said...

Good. Now they know what it is so often like for the rest of us dealing with government departments.

Good.

Elby the Beserk said...

@LadyFinchley

Company I worked for we paid for everything in advance - including flights (often inter-continental) and hotel costs. Special needs would justify an advance, but I had to front £1k on expenses more than once.

pete-s said...

I would have made at least two major changes to Parliament, abolish 1) the titles Hon and Rt Hon; 2) the abolition of knee jerk reaction legislation.

So when IPSA legislation is remedied then the Hon title can be slung out as well.

Elby the Beserk said...

MPs would be well-advised to understand that it will be years before we trust them again. This won't just "go away", as it is the external manifestation of the total disconnect between the government and the governed. If Cameron and Clegg do nothing else but start to heal this, they will have done themselves proud.

Alex said...

"Welcome to the real world. Paying up-front, filling in complicated forms and then waiting six weeks is standard practice everywhere else."

Spot on. An MP is a self-employed businessman with his allowable expenses covered by the state. The mechanism for reimbursement was set up by parliament, so most of them have no-one to blame but themselves. If new MP's don't like having their cash flow squeezed, well tough, they should have thought about it before they put their names forward.

If MP's don't get that, they shouldn't be in Westminster.

Norton Folgate said...

Problems dealing with Government beaurocracy and bullshit?

Welcome to our world MP's, this is just a taste of the high handed jobsworth bloody minded crap we've been trapped with for years.

The IPSA needs to remain as an object lesson on what you piss poor clowns are capable of inflicting on the genral population.

PJH said...

"August 06, 2010 11:14 AM Lady Finchley said...

PJH - you really don't have a clue do you?"


Of course I do. I have more of a clue than said MPs.

In what world does an office worker pay first and then get reimbursed for the paper and pens they use?

If that's the full extent of your gripes, then my heart bleeds even more.

Nobody is asking to be exempt from a transparent system - we just want one that is workable.

"We"? I assume you're an MP.

And you've got one that's workable.

It's at least as workable as the government departments us proles have had to deal with for years. Get over it.

Or, if you have a problem with how IPSA works (which at first blush seems to working better than other departments,) then perhaps you'd like to work on the prole-facing departments and get them to speed up their processes and get money to us.

Example: HMRC. We're late with stuff/get stuff wrong? We get fined and/or taken to court.HMRC late with stuff/get stuff wrong? No culpability at ALL.

Example: Local Housing Benefit. We owe money/get stuff wrong? PAY UP NOW!!. Government late with payments? Good luck with that. "Fill this form out in triplicate" and wait 10 weeks. In the mean time your landlord will evict you for late/non-payment of rent.

Example: JSA. 1001 questions on why you don't have a job any more. Looking for the slightest discrepancy so they don't have to pay you JSA. Forget the fact that I had to move, but you'll decide to dock my JSA for 3 weeks because I was 1 week late in going to Job Seekers (due to the move.) Then decide to stop it altogether because I left "voluntarily" while ignoring the extenuating circumstances (like an ill mother, having to move 250 miles, etc.)

These are but thee simple examples of how government departments are obstructive to the general public.

Are you seeing any similarities with IPSA yet? The only differences are:
1) The government have been running these departments like this for years.
2) MPs are still getting off lightly
3) A darn sight more people that 650 are affected.

Do you even emphathise with the treatment the proles get from government departments, or are you still feeling sorry for yourselves because IPSA is treating you badly, but still a lot better than we get treated, and have been for years?

PJH said...

[part 1/3 - comment too long apparently]
"August 06, 2010 11:14 AM Lady Finchley said...

PJH - you really don't have a clue do you?"


Of course I do. I have more of a clue than said MPs.

In what world does an office worker pay first and then get reimbursed for the paper and pens they use?

If that's the full extent of your gripes, then my heart bleeds even more.

Nobody is asking to be exempt from a transparent system - we just want one that is workable.

"We"? I assume you're an MP.

And you've got one that's workable.

It's at least as workable as the government departments us proles have had to deal with for years. Get over it.

PJH said...

[part 2/3]
Or, if you have a problem with how IPSA works (which at first blush seems to working better than other departments,) then perhaps you'd like to work on the prole-facing departments and get them to speed up their processes and get money to us.

Example: HMRC. We're late with stuff/get stuff wrong? We get fined and/or taken to court.HMRC late with stuff/get stuff wrong? No culpability at ALL.

Example: Local Housing Benefit. We're owed money/get stuff wrong? Pay up now. Government late with payments? Good luck with that. Fill this form out in triplicate and wait 10 weeks. In the mean time your landlord will evict you for late/non-payment of rent.

Example: JSA. 1001 questions on why you don't have a job any more. Looking for the slightest discrepancy so they don't have to pay you JSA. Forget the fact that I had to move, but you'll decide to dock my JSA for 3 weeks because I was 1 week late in going to Job Seekers (due to the move.) Then decide to stop it altogether because I left "voluntarily" while ignoring the extenuating circumstances (like an ill mother, having to move 250 miles, etc.)

PJH said...

[part 3/3]
These are but thee simple examples of how government departments are obstructive to the general public.

Are you seeing any similarities with IPSA yet? The only differences are:
1) The government have been running these departments like this for years.
2) A darn sight more people that 650 are affected.

Do you even emphathise with the treatment the proles get from government departments, or are you still feeling sorry for yourselves because IPSA is treating you badly, but still a lot better than we get treated, and have been for years?

Lady Finchley said...

PJH - you are dumber than I thought as are some of the other people on this thread. Okay get this. Staff salaries and office supplies are not expenses - these are required for the MP to do his job. If you want your MP to sort out any of the myriad probelms you as constituents bring to them then they have to pay staff and buy paper, computer ink etc. If you want them to be legislating then they cannot be spending time trying to get thru to IPSA - nor can their staff. It took me three e-mails over three days and two phone calls to get an answer to a simple question - the Fees office would have answered it straight away. As I was waiting to talk to IPSA over (by the way I finally had to hang up in frustration after 15 minutes on two occasions)three different constituents were trying to get through.

Oh and btw - all the problems you mentioned are things that constituents bring to us every day and we dreadful awful people in MPs' offices get your rebates for you, sort out your benefits, get your special needs child a statement and intervene so that you are not treated unfairly. We will not be able to do this if we are not paid or spend our days trying to deal with IPSA.

Geddit?

James said...

"In what world does an office worker pay first and then get reimbursed for the paper and pens they use?"

The one I work in, for one: since the company itself doesn't have a credit card, we buy office supplies then re-claim the money through expenses, and have done for five years now. Same with our office computers and furniture for that matter, and the paint for the office walls, although the company did pay the painter for his time directly by cheque. I very much doubt we're alone in that.

As for the fifteen minutes wait to talk to someone, obviously they need to disconnect the phone lines entirely, with all enquiries handled by email instead. No, it won't be as fast, lax or pliable as the previous instant rubber-stamping of every piece of fraud to cross their desks - nor should it be. What it might be, unlike that disaster, is honest: they only need to reject or defer a few thousand pounds in bad claims per claimant to cover their running costs!

If agreed *salaries* aren't being paid properly, then I agree there is a problem which needs to be fixed - but sorry, the spectacle of those who impose the HMRC which will take over a year to pay refunds whining about having to wait a couple of months evokes something between amusement and disgust, not sympathy.

Gallimaufry said...

re Lady Finchley's comment: Am I correct in assuming that the junior staff from the Fees Office, ie the ones who learnt the rules through constant use, did not transfer over to IPSA? What a waste of knowledge and experience if that is the case.

Lady Finchley said...

So tell me James, are you just an employee or a director? And did you perform a public service in your job? I thought not.

You obviously think you have all the answers but didn't you think I thought of an e-mail - it was the first thing I did and three went unanswered for three days. It was only when I threatened to take it to the press that I got an answer. This is happening all across Parliament and contrary to your very narrow view - buying stationery to answer cosntituents hardly constitutes a fraud. By all means big expenses should be treated carefully but not the basics that it takes to run an office to give a service to the public. And wouldn't you just scream the loudest if your MP didn't reply to you or take up your case.

No, Gallimaufry they didn't not take staff from the Fees Office - they are still there for all the other employees of the House. They hired inexperienced people - when my colleague said her boss was a minister he thought she meant a minister of the church!

PJH said...

Lady Finchley:
PJH - you are dumber than I thought as are some of the other people on this thread.

I *really* do hope you're just pretending to be an MP on here rather than actually being/representing one. The fact you're resorting to ad-homenem attacks is beneath any MP... oh, hang on - it isn't.

Regardless, you apear to refute my arguments by calling me thick. Nice role play. How about addressing the points I raise?

Okay get this. Staff salaries and office supplies are not expenses - these are required for the MP to do his job.

Um, so MP's create an expenses system for themselves that somehow fails to include/take account of stuff that /really/ shouldn't be put on expenses.

Colour me surprised. Colour me even more surprised when yet another of their systems fails to perform. Colour me sky-blue-pink when the users have problems with it.

Stop complaining. You've had to put up with this for a couple of months - the rest of us have had to put up with it for years.

Incoming MP's knew something had to give with expenses. Long serving MP's should have been prepared.

Complaining about it makes you look whiney. Because that's exactly what you're doing. Whining.

As pointed out numerous times before: welcome to our world. Either get used to it, or sort it out for all. Complaining because it's affecting you now is not acceptable.

BrendaC said...

Why are people on this thread just ignorning the fact that its MP's STAFF on approx 18k most of them who are suffering and not gettin their salries paid at all half the time.

Even if you have no sympaththy for MP's, stop missing the point for more mp baiting

Danny Law said...

well you reap what you sow

if the MP's had not been so greedy in the first place, none of this would happened.

so now MP's know what its like and i hope their lives are made an utter misery by IPSA - just like they make our lives an utter misery with all the bright ideas they force on us.

PJH said...

BrendaC said...
Why are people on this thread just ignorning the fact that its MP's STAFF on approx 18k most of them who are suffering and not gettin their salries paid at all half the time.


Because some of the jobs are nepotistic?

Or because, having joined up they are ignorant/optimistic of the expenses row?

Or, more likely, once again - how can MPs come up with a scheme that fails to recognise stuff that shouldn't be in the scheme?

I refer the honorable poster to the posts given some time before.

They can't come up with a coherent scheme for anyone - only when it affects them personally does it become an issue.

And they bleat about *that one* scheme.

Lady Finchley said...

PJH, I leave you to stew in your own juices - I refuse to argue with with thickos.

And Brenda C, they are purposely missing the point - to them staff are collateral damage in their nasty little vendettas against MPs. They would rather that IPSA cost millions more to the taxpayer just so they can give MPs a hrad time.

trevorsden said...

Its clear IPSA is a shambles and are too concerned I suspect to cover their own backs to actually do a competent job.

None of this is rocket science and the whole bureaucratic shambles is typical of the useless way Brown ran anything.

The fact that MPs are facing life like the rest of us is bollocks. MPs deserve to have staff and the staff deserve to be paid.

A crap system has been replaced by another crap system. Which is bonkers.

I grow tired of the faux outrage at MPs. Expenses get paid properly in the real world; what we are talking about here are wages, the wages of simple secretaries and researchers.

These issues should be managed properly and I, poor miserable individual that I am, am not going to pour my sense of inadequacy onto a hapless third party - even if it is an MP.

The usual nasty sneering crowd should get a life.

Dangermouse said...

@"Lady Finchley"

I sorry but you are whinging in the first order. I'm sorry you are having to wait, but as others have said - welcome to the real world. I am still waiting for a rebate from HMRC - £19,000. For 10 months and counting.

As for staff and office costs - again this highlights the sheer incompitence of Government. You had the chance to set up a proper system - central costs for staff, rent and office costs. Of course this differs in various areas of the country however if you are a "real" MP then are you not using your Constiuency Office? The costs you knew before you were elected? The costs that could of been submitted to a "new" Government Department to take over after election?

Likewise staff costs?

Stationary?

These things should not be going anywhere near Expenses claims and IF the system had of been properly planned then things could of been so much better.

But...no.

Rush out crap legislation, do half a job and then moan about the consequences. The sort of thing us proles have suffered for YEARS.

Of course, now it's you who is DIRECTLY suffering. And, of course, your staff. And now, of course, you will sqweem and sqweem and sqweem.

Sympathy?

I've heard of it...

About £19,000's x 10 months worth of it.

Postscript - word verification...SPURN

How very apt.

Lady Finchley said...

Trevorsden - well said - I applaud you. Since PJH can't come up with anything better because I blew all his stupid arguments out of the water he now says the staff are all there because of nepotism so we should suffer. There are over 600 MPs with an average of 2000 staff - I can assure everyone that only a small percentage are related to their MPs and I actually agree that family shouldn't be employed.

Sir Olly said...

Hahahahahahahaha. Suffer.

Sorry but not an ounce of sympathy.

To those "civil" servants that have appeared on this thread you're hardly civil are you? Is it any wonder we hold you with the same contempt as the MPs when you go around insulting us?

IPSA is a clusterf**k of major proportions agreed, but you reap what you sow. When you started working for your MP did yu ont know about the expenses scandal?

Non payment of wages is not the taxpayers problem sweetheart, take the legal route! It sure looks like you have a case for it. Or are you too thick?

Idiots.

Right Hon. said...

@Lady Finchley

How refreshing to get an MP on here that speaks their mind instead of playing to the local crowd (David Cameron please take note). Shame you have to use a pseudonym, but not too difficult to work out who you are.

PJH said...

Lady Finchley : Since PJH can't come up with anything better because I blew all his stupid arguments out of the water

1) No you didn't - you spectacularly failed to address any of my arguments
2) They most certainly were not stupid. Unless you consider the prole's problems with HMRC, Job center and local government stupid. Then again you probably do judging from your comments.

he now says the staff are all there because of nepotism so we should suffer

lern2read - that is not what I said.

Rush-is-Right said...

Pogo (10.43am)... spot on. And pretty much what I said at the time on an earlier thread.

This IPSA organisation (if that's the word) has Brown's finger marks all over it. Overmanned, over-complicated, woefully managed, insanely expensive and with Press Officers on the payroll for God's sake. I mean WTF?

I've no sympathy for the MPs, (they did vote for this crap system after all) but my objection is on behalf of the poor bloody tax-payer again. A perfectly brilliant example government doing what it does best... pissing money away.

Pugh said...

Only a saint could not revel in the irony of the position MPs in which find themselves.

After decades of the equivalent of "Do you know who I am?" MPs are being treated like the rest of us.

We find it impossible to bully HMRC when they cock up our tax codes and take too much tax. Has any being in the known universe ever received an apology from an employee in public service?

No, perhaps in 13 years time I might find it in myself to contain the side splitting belly laughs that erupt every time I hear them whinge ...

Pugh said...

And another thing...

I can't find how much it is forecast to run per annum, but at £6.6M to set up that's £847 per claim.

But the staggering statistic is that each employee (assuming an undemanding 35 hour week and a 40 week year) will have 2 days to process each claim!

Lady Finchley said...

Dangermouse - instead of bitching and moaning like a girl why don't you contact your horrible MP. I've gotten more rebates for constituents than you've had hot meals. Or would your rather bitch so you have something to moan about?

Cynic said...

Parliament now needs IPSA but it also needs an IPSA that works. It seems a Regulator out of control that has set up such a labyrinthine system that even it cannot manage it.

And why on earth, other than building an empire, is the transaction processing being done in house and not by a company that knows how to do it?

In any case, the answer to the problem is simple.

Why are the Chief Executive and Chairman still in post?

They should be given 4 weeks to resolve it. If they haven't sorted it by that point they get a P45 - assuming IPSA is capable of issuing one.

And before anyone asks I have no connection at all with the House or any MPs. I simply regard this as a classic Labour organisation set up by Labour luvvies

PS why could they not put anyone up to speak about this? for goodness sake Iain - for £85000 they wont work weekends ...... what were you thinking!

Devil's Kitchen said...

Iain,

Boo hoo, my heart bleeds.

And if the interns are being paid, perhaps they could go and get a proper, productive job, instead of starting as they mean to go on—by leeching off the productive work of others.

Lady Finchley,

"In what world does an office worker pay first and then get reimbursed for the paper and pens they use?"

Well, you wouldn't know this, of course, but in most small companies one has to buy the stuff first and then you get re-imbursed.

"Staff salaries and office supplies are not expenses - these are required for the MP to do his job."

Expenses are only supposed to be those monies outlaid in the course of one's work. Anything else is a benefit in kind, and is taxed as such by HMRC.

Unless, of course, you are an MP—because MPs exempted themselves from the legislation that governs everyone else. They are not taxed on benefits in kind—which is very convenient.

I think that you should be careful in throwing around accusations of ignorance, especially when your comments reveal a rather distasteful but entirely typical sense of entitlement that we—the taxpayers, your paymasters—are fed to the back teeth of.

DK

darrellgoodliffe said...

I would just like to say I think its good that this issue is a cross-party concern and thank Iain for raising it. People may have little sympathy for MP's, although they should perhaps remember that only a few were in the wrong, but MP's staff are the innocent victims of both the expenses scandal (which they had nothing to do with) and now IPSA and as has been pointed out these are the people who are invaluable in the MP representing their constituents in the way they do.

Something has to be done and people speaking out can only mean there is greater awareness of what is going on and I trust the public who were right to be outraged about expenses can see that IPSA is indeed not the solution but is now a major problem.

PJH said...

darrellgoodliffe said... although they should perhaps remember that only a few were in the wrong,

A few? More than half the house were asked to pay back falsely claimed expenses.

Just because only a small minority of the abusers have gone to court does not mean the majority were not guilty of fiddling.