Tuesday, November 06, 2007

MPs Expenses: 77% People of Buxton Say "Good Value"

There is an amusing juxtaposition over at Greater Manchester Fabians. Graham rightly draws attention to the feeding frenzy on MPs' expenses previously dismissed in advance on this blog.

The Buxton Advertiser are having a right royal go at Tom Levitt MP who was the eighth highest claimant. There are all sorts of potential reasons why he might be at the higher end.

Tom represents High Peak, a mostly very rural and thinly spread constituency
There is a continuum with little practical difference between the 8th claimant and the 80th or even the 330th
There are accountancy foibles for example the bean counting of unused stocks of envelopes
The largest item in the claim by far is staff and the cost of this depends on for example seniority on pay scales, level of unfilled vacancies, actual level of casework support needed

The opposition PPCs are naturally immature and opportunist, and predictably so in their comments to the Advertiser:

Stephen Sharp, Lib Dem PPC, said: "I am the first to accept that democracy doesn't come cheap, but I really would like to know how anyone can justify these figures from public money.
"Perhaps if Mr Levitt represented the electorate of the High Peak instead of being a Westminster 'yes man' he might find his requirement to write back to people grossly diminished," said Mr Sharp. "I doubt I am on my own in assuming that nearly all his postbag is not congratulating him on the excellent service he does for the High Peak.

Yes, Stephen Sharp, you snide wassock you are very much on your own there matey. But what about the Tory?

Andrew Bingham, Conservative PPC, said: "There is no escaping £168,000 is an awful lot of money when people in High Peak look at what they take home and what they spend in a year. It is a figure that doesn't bear much relation to reality.
"People will judge whether they are getting good value for money from their member of parliament at the next general election and that's the judgement they will make," said Mr Bingham.
"It is a shame Mr Brown was too frightened to give us that chance."

No, Mr Bingham, it is a shame that Tories were so "frit" at the prospect of an election that they rolled out a series of dog whistles like this one, added a soupcon of ridiculous mendacious memory man act, and topped it all off with a sprig of big bad money lies.

Clearly there are a few High Peak people taking home parliamentary caseworker pay as a result of the employment created in the MPs office! And overall it is interesting that for the moment at least the Good People of Buxton are voting 77:23 IN FAVOUR of the proposition that "MPs ARE GOOD VALUE".

Leaving aside the occasional maverick loner, MPs tend to have three or four underpaid and overworked staff. And the cost of supporting their activity is far lower than the overhead for a solicitor or an accountancy fee earner, say five years qualified, actually paid about half an MPs salary or £30,000 but charged out at SIX TO TWELVE TIMES their actual rate.

Of course there is an element of strategic management and profits to account for in those cases. But pro rata MPs administration would come in at one third to two thirds of a million pounds if they were supported and housed at the level and at the rates of pay of a solicitor or accountant in a medium sized practice.

That amusing juxtaposition? Having slammed the press for their cynicism and unreasonable coverage Graham cannot resist revealling that ... party-for-party Lib Dem MPs are on average the most expensive.

1 comment:

Tameside Eye said...

I contacted Tom Levitt in regards to his expenses and he wasn't too pleased.