Direct suppliers

Overview

Learn the rules on claiming the costs of running MPs’ constituency offices and surgeries, as well as activities including providing stationery to support parliamentary duties.

Scheme rules

Your annual office costs budget is:

  • London Area MP – £30,400 [6.10]

  • non-London Area MP – £27,470 [6.11]

In March 2020, IPSA provided an immediate increase of £10,000 to each MP’s office costs budget, to support their staff in moving to home working during the coronavirus pandemic.

This amount is available until the end of the 2020-21 financial year. Any unspent amount of this uplift from an MP’s 2019-20 office costs budget will be "rolled over" and made available in the current year.

The amounts available for individual MPs will be confirmed following the closure of the 2019-20 financial year.

Additionally, in your first year as an MP:

  • start-up supplement – £6,000 in the financial year of election [6.13]

For new MPs elected at the December 2019 election, IPSA will roll forward any amounts leftover from your start-up supplement into the new financial year. [6.14]

The start-up supplement is to help new MPs meet the costs of setting up one or more constituency offices. While it will probably be used toward big acquisitions, like new computers, desks or redecoration, it does not have to be used for such purchases and is simply a sum added to the office costs budget. [6.12]

You are entitled to exercise reasonable discretion in deciding what items fall within the office costs budget, provided your claims observe the fundamental principles and general conditions of the Scheme. [6.4]

Note, this is not an exhaustive list.

For the costs of renting and running a constituency office including things like stationery, website, and printing.

For a home office (but excluding rent), if that is where you or your staff routinely work – but we will only pay claims for costs over and above the normal cost of living in the home. [6.6]

You must comply with the relevant HMRC guidance to demonstrate it is a de facto office, and not a place of occasional home work. We will then reimburse you according to HMRC guidelines. [6.8]

For a constituency office only if it is located in the constituency (this includes a location within 20 miles of the constituency boundary) – unless it is a home office. A home office can be claimed for even if it is more than 20 miles from the constituency boundary. [6.7]

Costs for more than one office, provided you stay within the budget. If you cannot, but can demonstrate exceptional circumstances, you may be eligible for additional contingency funding to allow for the operation of more than one office.

As a guide, we consider MPs most likely to need more than one office where you represent a constituency with a large geographical area with limited public transport. [6.3]

This is covered by Requesting additional budget.

For more information on using IPSA Online, visit Applying for contingency funding.

Office removal costs, when moving to new office premises, as a contingency payment (rather than from the office costs budget). No pre-approval is required. Other costs associated with moving, including any legal fees, must be claimed from the office costs budget. [6.9]

For routine security measures from the office costs budget. These are ones that fall outside the recommended and further security covered by the security assistance budget.

For more information, visit Security measures & assistance. [6.8]

Phone calls, but only the portion that relate to parliamentary purposes. [6.29]

Pooled staffing services from either the office costs or staffing costs budget. Visit Staffing costs and Staffing costs you can claim for more information. Given that MPs’ staffing costs budgets are considerably larger than the office costs budget, MPs are advised to fund pooled services from their staffing costs budgets. [6.30]

You cannot claim [6.5]

  • alcoholic drinks

  • stationery provided by the House of Commons

  • newsletters

  • for any material that contains a party political logo or emblem (except for websites)

  • personal accountancy or tax advice

Reimbursement on rail travel is limited to the “anytime standard open” rate. [9.14]

Note, first class rail tickets can be purchased, but you can only claim an amount up to the anytime standard rate. If travelling on a sleeper train, MPs can also claim for a sleeper supplement on a single occupancy berth. [9.15]

Note, both companies which provide sleeper train services within the UK (Caledonian Sleeper and Great Western Railway) allow travellers to purchase a single occupancy berth as a supplement to a standard class ticket. The single occupancy berth is the same berth as would be provided with a first class ticket.

No MP is expected to share a berth and IPSA will pay any claim that was necessary to secure a single berth. [9.15]

For more information on making a claim using IPSA Online, visit Getting reimbursed for travel or Making reimbursement claims.

Guidance

IPSA sets up accounts for you with a number of direct suppliers using the MPs’ parliamentary email account.

You can order from the suppliers and we will pay directly. These costs will be published every two months and will come from your annual budget.

The suppliers are:

  • Commercial: office supplies, office furniture and electronics

  • Trainline: UK train travel

  • XMA: printer cartridges

You can access the accounts using the links above and can reset the passwords online if necessary. You can also purchase goods and services from other suppliers using either the Payment Card or by claiming the costs back as a reimbursement claim.

MPs are able to purchase stationery (from public funds) via two mechanisms:

  • IPSA Office Costs Budget – all general stationery items that allow MPs to fulfil their parliamentary and constituency duties.

  • House stationery budget – there is a separate, bespoke catalogue that allows MPs to purchase items specific to Parliament. These include envelopes and paper embossed with the portcullis, overprinting of stationery, and business cards with MPs’ details. Costs are limited to an annual budget and must conform to House rules.

Visit the House of Commons guidance to find out more about the rules on stationery.

If you have queries about House of Commons stationery, please contact the Members’ Accommodation Manager.

The Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses allows MPs to claim payments for pooled services.

A “pooled service” provides research, briefing and drafting services to a group of MPs.

Unlike other bought-in services, IPSA allows for direct payments to be made to pooled services where an agreement is in place. This means pooled services can be paid by IPSA either through claims made by MPs for the reimbursement of services or directly as part of a subscription arrangement with IPSA.

We have outlined how to ensure research, briefing and drafting services meet the Scheme’s requirements for funding and avoid content that is party political in nature or otherwise contrary to the Scheme rules.

The guidance also sets out requirements on pooled services relating to administration and reporting to IPSA, and the process for setting up new pooled services.

Read IPSA's guidance on pooled research briefing and drafting services.

All pooled services registered for direct payments need to sign this written agreement between IPSA and pooled staffing services.

This template spreadsheet can be used by pooled service staff to report financial information to IPSA.

Those looking to set up a new pooled service should contact info@theipsa.org.uk in the first instance and will have to complete a direct payments pooled services request.

Contact IPSA

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