MP’s expenses “soar” due to extra staff costs

Jack Lopresti, MP for Filton and Bradley Stoke.

Expenses claimed by Filton and Bradley Stoke MP Jack Lopresti “soared by nearly 30% in 2011” compared to the previous year, according to a report in the Thornbury and Yate newspaper ‘The Gazette’.

Figures published by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA), set up following the expenses scandal of 2009,  show that Mr Lopresti’s claims rose from £109,159 in 2010/11 to £151,908 in 2011/12.

The expenses paid are in addition to the basic MP’s salary received by Mr Lopresti, which was unchanged at £65,738.

Most of the sum was spent on constituency and staffing costs, which rose from £91,202 to £138,009 in the last financial year.

Mr Lopresti’s claims for accommodation, travel and subsistence fell from £17,956 to £13,899 over the same period.

A spokesman for Mr Lopresti told the paper that the major increase in the politician’s expenses was easily explained by the fact that 2010 was his first year as MP. During that year and over the following one, he gradually built up his staff, incurring more costs.

The MP started with one member of staff but now has three-and-a-half, the spokesperson explained, adding that “it takes time to find people who have the experience to do the job”.

Thornbury and Yate MP Steve Webb’s expenses also increased in the last financial year but only by approximately 6%.

The Liberal Democrat Minister for Pensions claimed slightly less than his Tory colleague with £150,913 in 2011/12. He had spent £142,671 the previous year.

Claims by another South Gloucestershire MP, Chris Skidmore (Conservative, Kingswood), also rose greatly last year – from £114,735 to £145,439.

Read more: Increase in expenses claims last year from Jack Lopresti and Steve Webb (The Gazette)

Details of all MPs’ expense claims can be researched on the IPSA website.

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  1. The Gazette appears to have got its calculations wrong. The increase in Mr Lopresti’s expenses is 39.2%, so “nearly 40%” would be more accurate!

  2. Three and a half staff? For what? He does nothing! That he requires a “spokesman” to chat to the local paper beggars belief.

  3. Typical politician. Telling us all we need to cut back whilst claiming an extra 40% himself.

    And for what? What has he actually done?

    He walked away from Filton Airfield and allowed one of the worst decisions this area has ever seen. He told us all the airfield was unviable. Well guess what? The airfield has made a profit for the last two years – whilst it’s being run down.

    Many of his his party’s Councillors have left for UKIP citing bullying and there have been rumours that he chastised Councillors for protesting against the airfield closure.

    To round it off, he then started a petition to keep the Police Helicopter at Filton!


  4. Imagine the cost if he has FOUR staff!

    We also need to remember that Steve Webb is a significantly more important and higher profile MP.

  5. I would love to see the salaries of his staff too. Hardly minimum wage are they Jack.

    Make hay whilst the sun shines as you are out of a job come the next election. Best start looking for a directorship soon

  6. Wheel out Trevor Jones quick, I’m sure he can justify this spending, he usually speaks up for Jack, and I think he does it for free too.

  7. Many vigorously try to scandalise everything, this story is also not different. What is wrong for an MP to utilise his legitimate right to staff his office? If he done wrong in his action or policy, that should be treated as a separate issue. If I not wrong, Jack produces a statement of what his office is doing for the people. He is drawing only the salary he is entitled and has reduced his accommodation cost. When this sort of unwarranted grilling takes place even for petty things, I wonder why many talented youth keeps away from politics. To be honest, many capable hands are afraid to serve in public offices and these kinds of stories shall keep many more away. Please don’t misuse the right to information for character-shattering.

  8. Sue, our MP is supposed to represent his constituency and will be judged on his behaviours.

    What did he hope to gain by not campaigning for the airfield to remain open. It could have been retained as a maintenance base (just check out the multi million pound new work taking place over the Severn at Cardiff). Just why is our MP so keen on yet more houses, more congestion, more overload on already creaking local services?

    In fact just what has he done for Bradley Stoke since the election?

  9. I could maybe understand three support staff if he was a cabinet minister, but as an MP who has been, on the whole, very quiet, I struggle to see how it is justifiable. These are the 84 times Jack Lopresti has stood up to say something at 29 separate debates around Westminster since he became MP, many of them just short sentences. To be fair, he does bring up some local issues: the Winterbourne View expose, Patchway Community College, BRT, apprentices, Frenchay, travellers at Pilning and, yes, Filton Airfield (to defend its closure). He clearly wants a defence role given his proclivity to discuss NI and Afghanistan, which is fair enough, but does his current role really requires so many assistants? I’d like to do know what their roles are.

  10. Call me innocent ……but ………,

    Would I be right in assuming that these figures do NOT include the EXTRA amount of MPs’ allowance/expenses ‘fiddle money’ announced (VERY quietly) a short time BEFORE the Budget which affected the rest of the FULL taxpaying citizen voters of the UK ….. and which will thus be kept ‘hidden’ until next year’s figures are announced?

    Hands up all of those people who believe that politicians will then use the massively inflated figures for 2011-12 as a new ‘baseline’ and try to con us that only a ‘tiny’ increase has occurred when using 2010-11 as the ‘baseline’ would show an overall all increase of 26% for 2011-12 and a prospective 35+% increase for 2012-13 – unless, of course- politicians, in these times of ‘austerity’, ‘tighten THEIR belts’ and show thatwe are ‘all in this together’?

    I humbly … ask!

    Or is it JUST that ALL politicians consider that ‘Austerity’ is restricted to ‘the Plebs’ ( to quote a certain Mitchell plonker!) and that politicians, politicians’ family members placed on the public payroll by abuse of power, politicians old school chummies, politicians’ cronies, politicians’ ‘paymasters’ who expect ‘favourable’ legislation and politicians’ other accomplices expect, by right’ to be gifted a ‘Get Out Of Austerity Free!’ Card?

    I again ….. humbly, …… doffing my cap, ….. and tugging my forelock, … as a MERE full taxpaying citizen voter, ……..ask!

  11. I never cease to be amazed by how some deluded and obsessed individuals seem to try to bring the wretched airfield into everything. With regards to the MP’s expenses. I really don’t understand why this is a story? His personal expenses of travel etc are actually down. Surely it is to be expected that a mid-term MP will have properly and correctly built up his office structure to deal with potentially thousands of constituent’s casework issues? This seems reasonable to me and entirely appropriate – but then I’m not a blinkered airfield bore like some of the more prolific commentators on this blog.

  12. Any evidence that he IS actually dealing with ‘ potentially thousands of constituent’s casework issues’?

    …. Or is there an inappropriate proprtion of his time spent on other matters…. like many of our MPs who would appear to be ’employed’ in a variety’ of other fields, when a full taxpaying citizen voter might expect them to have a ‘full time’ commitment to running the country(to match the ‘full time salary and the full time expenses/allowances ‘fiddle money’!)?
    I humbly …… ask!

  13. What is John L Bell referring to by ‘fiddle money’? Point is we good people (of all parties) into office because they want to serve our community. It’s not helpful that people like John make snide comments about ‘fiddle money’ when clearly these are proper office expenses. Then we wonder why people avoid public life. It’s because of people like you John who make throwaway comments without knowing the facts. I’ve done some research into this this evening and actually our MP costs less than neighbouring LibDem or Labour MPs -that’s a fact. So what’s the issue John? What’s the ‘fiddle money’ slur you have referred to?

  14. To be fair to those neighbouring LibDem and Labour MPs, Binky, one is the Work and Pensions secretary and one is the shadow Minister to the Treasury. I would expect them to have a workload in those roles which requires more staff. I’d still like to see full justification for all their expenses though.

  15. Hopefully, Jock Strap Lie will be on his way at the next election.

    The sad thing is, the replacement will probably be no better since we only get to vote for self selected power hungry idiots anyway.

    There are a few decent politicians and I feel sorry for them. THEY try listen to their constituents.

    Jack simply doesn’t listen at all. He’s only interested in himself and his party if you ask me.

  16. Binky, why do you accuse those who support the airfield at Filton as “deluded and obsessed individuals”.

    Do you understand the impact on the local economy the presence of Rolls Royce, BAE and Airbus has brought?

    Why do you call it “wretched”? it is a source of employment for 1000s, brings billions of pounds into the economy and has secured the name of Bristol on the aviation map for all time,

    I can only summise that you too support Lopresti’s stance of building on everything and overloading our local infrastructure even more, at the expense of real jobs. A strange position.

  17. Quite right Anon-e-mouse.

    That wretched old airfield has been there for over one hundred years and is still supporting the industries it was designed for. With vision it could be doing a lot more for our region, but since Jack’s party is funded by the House Building Federation, he’d rather close it down and give the golden egg to Bovis – who he’s happy to do PR with.

    Heading up the Council’s transport and planning we have Jack’s mate Brian Allinson. He lives on the final approach flight path. He was also heavily involved with the Police helicopter. By co-incidence the police helicopter appears to be staying.

    Then we have Pat Hockey. She seems keen to get rid of the airfield too. She complained about the noise of aircraft at one of the airfield’s consultative meetings in 2008. Have a look for yourself:

    Strangely when her Parish Council was asked to oppose the closure, the position taken was that Frampton Cotterell was too far away to be affected. Bit of an insult to those constituents that work there, but since when have politicians cared about their constituents?

    Because when it comes to supporting the airfield there’s no context. Over 75% of people who could be bothered to respond to the consultation were against closing it.

    But these, it seems were all ignored. In fact the Officers of SGC decided WAY before any consultation that Filton Airfield would be used for housing.

    Let a minority do what suits THEM, and ignore the vast MAJORITY of people.

  18. There you go again…. Off on the subject of the airfield. You airfield mob must be wonderfully entertaining (or do I mean boring?) to live with. Any subject, it get’s back to the airfield. Change the record for heaven’s sake.

  19. As a non-partisan member of the public I’ve looked at these comments quite impartially and this story with an eye of impartiality and I have to say I come down on the side of Jack Lopresti. It seems to me that this story seems to be trying to create something that isn’t there. There has been no fiddling (in fact Mr Lopresti’s personal subsistence expenses, travel etc are down on last year and seem perfectly reasonable to me). The increase in costs is as a result of employing the required staff to run an MP’s office. That seems reasonable and proper to me. I think Mr Lopresti seems to be doing a good job and I think this sort of story is actually unhelpful. Yes we have freedom of information but sometimes freedom of information seems to turn into freedom to hound good people away from public service. Let’s keep that thought in mind with our comments please.

  20. I’m with Binky on this one I’m afraid. Any story in this mighty organ which mentions Jack Lopresti (and personally I think he’s doing a fine job – and yes I speak to a lot of people in Bradley Stoke) and the usual half a dozen suspects crop up to witter on about the airfield. Yes I mean you Bert, anon-e-mouse etc. Same old faces, same old dinosaur views.

  21. Sorry Bert but how does the sad but necessary closure of the redundant Filton Airfield have any connection with an MPs office costs? Please change the record it’s getting dull.

  22. Steve – I haven’t brought the airfield into it. Others have, but I don’t quite understand why you’re singling out me? I’m more perplexed by the number of staff our MP claims to require.

  23. Interesting how many people think that the airfield is “redundant”.

    It’s actually made a profit the last two years running (2010 and 2011), despite being running down.

    Jack and Brian and Pat may want to tell you that it’s unviable, but that’s to get you on side, and I guess it’s inevitable that a number of people will fall for it.

    The reason it’s being closed is not that it’s unviable, or “redundant”. It’s that BAE, it’s owners are in trouble. That’s also why they wanted to merge with EADS. They made the awful mistake of selling their shares in Airbus many years ago, and now we’re paying the price. It’s all part of the Great British sell off which is coming back to haunt us.

    Of course, Binky and all will tell us that it makes sense to close down profitable airfields that support thousands of skilled workers and bring wealth to this region.

    Binky would prefer to throw that away and build some lego, because after all that’s a great way of leading the Country out of recession. Binky thinks all this without being able to justify it.

    And Binky thinks we’re dull……..

    This article sums up the position nicely:

  24. The Editor notes that the recent comments from John Davis, Berty Bee and Gasheads Steve came from very similar (but not identical) IP addresses.

    Reminder: Anyone making multiple comments on a story is asked to use a consistent username.

  25. In answer to a comment received from Gasheads Steve, we monitor IP addresses in response to concerns previously expressed by several readers that discussions might be being manipulated by individuals posting multiple comments under different names. Monitoring IP addresses can never be conclusive but the Editor will continue to alert readers when this and other factors indicate a strong possibility that this is happening.

  26. @ SH Editor So I think we should know. Do you routinely monitor all IP addresses of posters or purely just those which express sympathy with the Conservative Party? I think we should be told as it gives guidance as your your editorial sympathies.

  27. Binky, IP address are recorded by the underlying software platform used by the website. I do not routinely “monitor” them but do check them on occasions where suspicion of foul play is aroused by other indicators. From memory this has occurred on just three or four stories during the lifetime of this website and, interestingly, all of these stories have been on a political topic. Feel free to contact me via the newsdesk if you have similar suspicions of impersonation that you would like checked out.

  28. @ SH (Editor) So the question I also have is if you suspect ‘foul play’ as you say why don’t you simply remove the ‘offending comments’?

    What editorial purpose does it serve to state that several posters have a ‘similar’ IP address other than to potentially smear and undermine the message that the poster is attempting to put across?

    You state that some IP addresses are ‘similar’ – this is often the case with IPs. For example people who use BT as their internet service provider on the Almondsbury Exchange (a fair few residents of Bradley Stoke) will have a similar sequence of IP numbers, with perhaps the just the last three digits being different. It doesn’t mean they are the same internet user, it simply means they are all located in a similar area and using the same ISP.

    I think the legitimate concern of posters now is that if they share a similar but not identical IP address with another poster it may be suggested by SH (Editor) that they are the same masquerading under multiple usernames, which of course may be completely untrue.

  29. @ Douglas. I’m sure the local Conservatives are perfectly happy with the voting system we have. That’s why they actively campaigned against the unfair Lib Dem AV system that was proposed. Remember? That’s the voting system the Liberals lost the referendum on last year. That’s why we still have first-past-the-post.

    Mr Lopresti is a hard-working MP in my opinion and so has nothing to fear from the ballot box in 2 or 3 years time. The views of half a dozen of the ‘usual suspects’ on this site doesn’t mean he is unpopular with the wider Bradley Stoke electorate who in my experience think he is doing a good job.

  30. To the multiple poster who questions the broken record stance, I feel passionately about seeing our country have a strong aviation and defence industry. It’s a shame our MP who does seem to make most of his parliamentary utterings on either Northern Ireland or Afghanistan doesn’t share the views of 1000s of his constituents who work or have worked at BAE/RR.

    So let him answer just why he feels it’s more important to build houses on prime industrial land.

  31. @Binky, I don’t think removing comments is the answer. That would amount to censorship. All viewpoints are welcome on this website.

    Adding a note to make readers aware of possible manipulation isn’t an expression of opinion about the content of the comments.

    Other factors (in addition to IP address) are considered when forming a view as to whether manipulation *may* have occurred.

  32. @Binky: As you are interested, I’ll go through some technical info on IP addresses. Unlike telephone numbers, IP addresses are not allocated based on locality. Whilst it is possible to get static IP addresses (usually at an extra cost), most are assigned dynamically every time you reconnect your modem. The IP address is assigned by a host server of the ISP called a DHCP server. Each ISP company has a range to assign, and each customer who boots their modem will get assigned any free number. So, for your example, a BT Broadband customer will get assigned a number in the range – (~455,000 addresses). If three customers in the area all booted their modems at the exact same time, they *may* get numbers that are close together, but that’s unlikely. A reason for getting three numbers within a couple of hundred in the last field would typically be because they are using computers on a network in the same organisation (or home) that owns a static range. Obviously, we don’t know how “similar” the addresses are that the editor has flagged, but I guess it’s something obvious.
    Now, never let it be said I would be boring to live with!

  33. People become politicians , including local councillors, for one reason and one reason only and that is for the good and benefit of themselves NOT the people the people they are meant to represent. Remember this when you read about them and everything becomes easier to bear. In fact think of them like Starbucks, providing employment but not actually making a worthwhile contribution to the economy.

  34. I think that’s a bit harsh, Victor. There are plenty politicians out there who do an awful lot of good work, and I really doubt the vast majority of them go into it purely to benefit themselves. However, there are, in my opinion, too many “career” politicians – people that either study how to be a politician (by doing PPEs at Oxbridge), or who climb the greasy pole with the help of family/friends who are already part of the system. The system for selection is rarely a meritocracy. There are also too many politicians who let their party line overrule their own minds. That’s why I think there should be more focus on independents, and a proper funding structure to allow people to put themselves forward.

  35. For once I have to agree with Bert. He’s right that Victor is being a bit harsh to say that all councillors and politicians are in it for themselves. That’s plain wrong isn’t it. I’m happy to concede that there are people in all parties who work for the good of the community rather than for their own interests. Where I have to part from Bert is that I can’t agree that we should have funding of political parties and independents. That would potentially leave the taxpayer footing the bill for the electoral follies of cranks, fruitloops – and indeed UKIP.

  36. Binky – I said a “proper funding structure”. That doesn’t necessarily mean funding political parties and independents, I mean funding a platform from which they can all have a level playing field for electioneering. I wouldn’t want to remove the deposit, which the barrier to most cranks. The mayoral election is a good example – a booklet that every candidates can pay a capped fee towards to get access to the whole electorate without having to spend many thousands of pounds on adverts.
    Besides, our main political parties have their fair share of fruitloops!

  37. Readers may be interested to know that a lively debate on the future of Filton Airfield is underway here on the Filton Journal.

    The FABS branch of UKIP has arranged a meeting to discuss the issue on Friday (2nd November).

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