A suitable post for the day taxes go up for many – Owl
British MPs have charged taxpayers £420,000 for energy bills in their second homes over the last three years, openDemocracy can reveal.
Martin Williams www.opendemocracy.net
The government has refused to step in to curb record high energy costs as millions in the UK face bill hikes of 54%. Senior Tories also blocked proposals for a windfall tax on energy firms.
Yet government ministers are among the 405 MPs who have claimed expenses for their heating bills since April 2019. They include foreign secretary Liz Truss, two senior Treasury ministers, and even a minister from the department for energy.
Meanwhile, ordinary consumers have been hit with an extra £700-a-year cost for heating their homes. Official figures show 40% have already been finding it difficult to afford gas and electricity.
George Freeman, who is a minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, claimed £1,565 for electricity and other fuel.
Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, claimed £1,548 for gas and electricity.
Treasury ministers Simon Clarke and John Glen also claimed expenses for household energy.
Meanwhile, the government’s attorney general, Suella Braverman, racked up a £3,945 energy bill, which she charged to taxpayers.
And the disgraced former health secretary, Matt Hancock claimed a staggering £4,800 on energy costs – mostly during the pandemic.
But Labour MP Liam Byrne claimed the most on energy in his second home, charging taxpayers some £7,808 over three years.
Under the expenses system, MPs are allowed to claim for utility bills at their second homes if their constituencies are outside London.
Last week, MPs also got a £2,212 pay rise, bringing their standard salary up to £84,144 a year.
In reality, many MPs earn far more than this, as they are often paid extra for taking on additional roles like being a minister or chairing a select committee.
In November, openDemocracy also revealed that MPs had earned £6m from second jobs since the start of the pandemic.
But outside Westminster, the UK’s poverty crisis is deepening – and the government has faced calls to rein in energy companies by introducing a windfall tax.
Last month, openDemocracy revealed that the Big Six energy companies had made more than £1bn in profit ahead of the bill hike.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng dismissed proposals for a windfall tax, saying it would be “completely the wrong message to send investors”.
“We believe a windfall tax would be a tax on jobs, would destroy investment and would add to the uncertainty in oil markets,” he said.
Speaking in a Commons debate on the issue, Tory MP Andrew Bowie said the tax proposals were “stunts”. But records show that he has claimed expenses for almost £1,300 of electricity bills since 2019.
The energy price rise has sparked fresh concern about the UK’s spiralling poverty crisis, with low-earners, elderly and disabled people being hit the hardest.
The total cost to taxpayers for MPs’ energy bills is expected to rise even further as not all claims for last year will yet have been made.