Requesting additional budget

Overview

Need extra budget? View the rules governing contingency budgets and learn how they can be used.

You can also visit Applying for contingency funding and get help with completing the Contingency Payments Application Form on IPSA Online.

Scheme rules

MPs may apply to IPSA for a contingency payment, under the following circumstances:

  1. Where they have incurred a cost, or liability for a cost, which is not covered by the Scheme, but which they consider to be in support of their parliamentary functions.

  2. Where their spending under a particular budget has exceeded or may exceed the budget limit for the year and they consider this to be the result of exceptional circumstances. [10.9]

MPs should apply for a contingency payments before they incur the costs which may take them over budget, rather than incurring the costs and then applying.

Simply complete the Contingency Payments Application Form on IPSA Online.

For contingency applications in relation to the situation in Afghanistan, please download this form and send to info@theipsa.org.uk

For more information, visit Applying for contingency funding. [10.10]

We may accept or reject an application at our discretion. [10.11]

In considering our decision, we take into account whether:

  • there are exceptional circumstances warranting additional support

  • the MP could reasonably have taken action to avoid the circumstances giving rise to the expenditure or liability

  • the MP's performance of parliamentary functions will be significantly impaired by a refusal of the claim

Removal costs for moving to new accommodation may be claimed from the contingency fund. No pre-approval is required.

All other moving costs must be charged to the accommodation costs budget. [4.14]

For more information, visit Applying for contingency funding.

For MPs representing Welsh constituencies, the cost of translation between Welsh and English can be claimed from the contingency fund, rather than the office costs budget. No prior approval is required. [6.28]

Downloads

Guidance

If you are thinking about or planning a return to office working, please refer to government guidance about measures you should put in place to ensure it is a Covid-secure environment for staff and visitors.

You should also refer to any guidance available from the House of Commons Health & Safety team.  

Costs for more frequent deep-cleaning of your office and hygiene supplies can be claimed from your office costs budget. Where you need to make more significant alterations to the office, this cost can also be claimed.

In some cases, your landlord may have or share the responsibility to make changes to ensure a safe working environment, so you should speak to them in the first instance. In any case, you should always check whether your lease allows you to carry out such work or whether you need to get permission. You may also need to consider additional ongoing costs of running equipment once installed.  

If you think you may require additional funding for larger costs (such as where additional ventilation solutions are needed) which cannot be managed within the standard office costs budget, you can consider making an application for contingency funding (see further guidance below).

We are monitoring Covid-related office costs – including ongoing cleaning and maintenance – to inform decisions about future policy and budget setting. 

Contingency applications: Covid-secure office alterations  

We understand in some cases the layout or features of an office may make it more difficult to apply Covid-secure changes and therefore the costs of doing so will be more significant. If you are facing costs for these alterations (or other costs relating to making the office Covid-secure) which you do not think can be managed within your budget, you may consider making an application for contingency funding.

Applications are considered by a panel on a case-by-case basis. Upon receipt of an application, we will consider: 

  • whether the proposed alteration is in line with HSE, government and/or House of Commons guidance 

  • whether it is necessary in the circumstances (given the specific features of the office) 

  • whether it provides value for money (i.e. whether less costly alternatives are available) 

In addition to the points above, please make sure you include evidence of the cost (receipt/invoice/estimate) and a budget forecast with your application. You can contact your Account Manager for further advice on the contingency process.  

The Scheme of MPs’ Staffing and Business Costs allows MPs to apply for additional funding, known as contingency payments.

What contingency funding is for

Where MPs have incurred a cost, or liability for a cost, which is not covered by the Scheme, but which they consider to be in support of their parliamentary functions.

Where MPs’ spending under a particular budget has exceeded or may exceed the budget limit for the year and they consider this to be the result of exceptional circumstances.

Removal costs incurred by MPs when changing their accommodation or office. These are automatically covered by the Contingency Fund and a separate contingency application does not need to be made.

Staff redundancy payments resulting from MPs leaving Parliament (voluntarily or losing their seat at an election). Again, these are automatically covered by the Contingency Fund.

What contingency funding is not for

Contingency payments are not available to cover costs incurred as part of MPs’ or their staff members’ regular parliamentary functions, such as routine casework (even when there are high volumes) or office equipment hire.

Contingency payments are not available for MPs who wish to "top up" their budget at the end of the financial year without evidence of exceptional circumstances, or for expenditure that they have had reasonable opportunity to budget for.

Procedures

To be considered for a contingency payment, MPs must complete and sign a Contingency Funds Application Form, setting out their case for additional funding.

MPs should provide evidence or explanation, where applicable, to support their application. IPSA will return an application if the information provided is not sufficient for a decision to be made.

While there is not an expectation that MPs should reduce spending in other areas to make room for an unexpected cost outside their control, MPs are expected to demonstrate that they have attempted to cover the cost within their existing budget.

Costs relating to Disability Assistance or Security Assistance should be applied for as described in Chapter Ten of the Scheme, not via the Contingency Fund.

If MPs have an exceptional need to purchase new office equipment or furniture during the winding-up period they must apply for contingency funding, as such costs are not covered by the winding-up budget.

Contingency Panel decisions will be made on a case-by-case basis, using the evidence provided.

Publication

Both approved and rejected applications to the Contingency Fund will be published on the IPSA website, as stated in our Publication Scheme.

Temporary and minor injuries

If MPs or staff members sustain temporary or minor injuries that affect their ability to carry out their parliamentary functions, they can apply to the Contingency Fund for expenditure incurred to support them outside the parliamentary estate, and for travelling to and from work.

For such cases, IPSA will require a medical report, in addition to an application form, which demonstrates the nature of the injury and how it will impair the individual’s ability to carry out their work. This can be in the form of a note from a GP, another medical professional, or the House of Commons Safety Health and Wellbeing Service.

IPSA may request a medical report that explains whether the injury is more significant, or permanent. If this is the case, funding should be applied for under Disability Assistance. Individual claims for Disability Assistance are not published. Only an aggregate figure for all Disability Assistance is published, once a year.

The role of the Contingency Panel (“the Panel”) is to consider applications from MPs for additional funding. This additional funding will be in order for those MPs to undertake their parliamentary duties effectively, where an expense or liability is not covered by any of the budgets set out in the Scheme of MPs’ Staffing and Business Costs or where it exceeds any financial limits that may apply.

The Panel will have regard to paragraphs 10.8, 10.9 and 10.10 of the Scheme and the accompanying guidance. It will also have regard to other decisions taken by the Board and any other relevant guidance, as required.

The Panel will consider applications in the following areas.

  • staffing expenditure budgets

  • office costs budgets

  • accommodation budgets

  • other exceptional claims where there is not an established policy position or where the claim is not covered specifically by the rules or budgets set out in the Scheme

When a clear policy position is established and communicated to MPs, the claim can be handled through the miscellaneous section of the online expenses system or any other budget as specified.

The Panel has delegated authority from the IPSA Board to take decisions about the provision of additional funding under the contingency arrangements.

The Panel may, using its own judgement, make minor policy decisions on which there is no established policy. The Chair of the Panel will be responsible for deciding whether any particular case should be referred to the Board because it raises a more significant matter of principle on which there is no established policy.

All decisions regarding additional funding taken by the Panel have effect only for the relevant financial year.

Composition

The Contingency Panel comprises:

  • Chief Executive – Chair

  • Director of Regulation

  • Head of Finance (or a representative)

  • Operations Managers (or representatives)

  • Director of MP Support Services

  • Head of Policy & Assurance

  • Another policy team representative

  • Publication and Validation Manager

  • Payroll Manager

Where necessary, in considering a request for additional funding, the Panel will invite the appropriate MP Account Managers and/or Payroll Officers to represent the case and provide background information.

The policy team will provide advice and administrative support to the Panel.

Process

The Panel will normally meet once a week. There should be at least three members of the Panel in attendance, and at least one person who is not from the policy team.

The Panel will assess each application on a case-by-case basis, making its own judgement on whether each application provides sufficient justification to be approved. A proportionate approach will be taken in terms of information requirements that will be applied to applications that involve insignificant amounts of additional funding.

If an application is deemed to be urgent, the Chair may consider the application out of committee and if necessary, make a decision without consulting all other Panel members. But the Chair should make every effort to consult all members of the Panel and should not take a decision without consulting at least one other member.

MPs will be notified of Panel decisions (including a request for further information) within 48 hours of the Panel sitting, with a routine target of 24 hours.

MPs may request that the Panel reconsiders its initial decision, providing further evidence in support of the application.

If the MP is dissatisfied with the Panel’s decision following that reconsideration, they may ask for a review of the decision. The process will vary, according to the nature of the application, as follows:

  • if the application concerns a claim which lies outside the Scheme, MPs may refer the decision to the Compliance Officer, in the same way as they can for any disputed claim

  • if the application concerns a request for an increase to a budget, they may request that the judicial member of the IPSA Board considers whether due process has been followed in the Panel’s decision

There will be a minute of the decisions taken at every Panel meeting, which will be circulated to members of the Panel along with a list of actions.

All applications, their status and any decisions taken will be recorded on IPSA’s central information system.

It will be the responsibility of the member with the relevant action to record and update the central record, to notify the MP of the Panel’s decision, and to request for an MP’s budget to be uplifted if required.

The Panel will provide the IPSA Board with a monthly update of decisions taken, indicating the amount of additional funding which has been agreed and outlining any notable applications.

Certain information about contingency applications and the Panel’s decisions will be published on IPSA’s website on an annual basis, in line with IPSA’s publication policy.

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