Sunak warns MPs over Christmas party expenses after watchdog gives go-ahead

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Rishi Sunak has warned MPs they will have to justify their expenses to voters after they were told for the first time they could charge taxpayers for Christmas parties.

The Prime Minister “certainly doesn’t intend” to put food, refreshments and decorations on expenses for an office party after guidance was issued by the watchdog responsible for MPs’ expenses.

Though alcohol was deemed off limits for expenses, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) has been widely criticised for giving the go-ahead amid a cost-of-living crisis.

“But the Prime Minister certainly doesn’t intend to use this and his view is that MPs will want to justify all spending to their constituents.”

Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds suggested the expenses watchdog had been a “little bit naive” in putting out such guidance.

“People have not been asking for this. I don’t think anyone will use it,” he told Times Radio.

“This is our regulator … the independent body that runs the MPs’ expenses system, which is a system for staff and rent of your office and all of that kind of stuff, you know, being a little bit naive, to be honest, because if they publish stuff like this, you will get a story like this.

“I understand why people cover it in this way but I doubt anyone will be using it. People will not have been asking for it. And (maybe) Ipsa need to be a bit more savvy in terms of how they present what they’re doing on this.”

Downing Street partygate
David Davis said the guidance on MPs’ Christmas parties was ‘bonkers’ (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

“Just want to say no one asked for this, no one I know will use it,” she wrote.

“The guidance wasn’t made by MPs and yet we will be pilloried for it. I think it’s really irresponsible to issue this guidance as if MPs have been clamouring for it when I’ve literally never heard anyone do that.”

The senior Tory told TalkTV: “I think it’s bonkers, frankly.”

The guidance issued by Ipsa, first reported by the Daily Mail, said: “MPs can claim the costs of food and refreshments for an office festive event under the discretion allowed as ‘hospitality’.

“As with all claims, value for money should be considered and all claims will be published in the usual manner.

“No claims are allowed for alcohol.”

MPs can also claim the cost of “festive decorations for their office”, Ipsa said.

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