The role of the Contingency Panel (“the Panel”) is to consider applications from MPs for additional funding.
This additional funding will be for those MPs to undertake their parliamentary duties effectively, where a cost 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 10.11, 10.12 and 10.13 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.
When a clear policy position is established and communicated to MPs, the claim can be handled through the miscellaneous section of the online system or any other budget as specified.
The Panel has delegated authority from the IPSA Board to make decisions about the provision of additional funding under the contingency arrangements.
The Panel may, using its 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.
The Contingency Panel is comprised of staff from across IPSA. Currently, the Panel includes the:
Director of Policy and Engagement (Chair)
Director of MP Services (or representatives)
Head of Finance (or a representative)
Head of Policy
Head of Payroll
Chief of Staff
At least one other policy team representative
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.
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 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, decide without consulting all other Panel members. However, the Chair should make every effort to consult all members of the Panel and should not decide 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 reconsider 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 by either the Compliance Officer or Lea Paterson, IPSA Board Member (if the MP does not think that due process has been followed by the Panel).
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.
The policy team will ensure that actions identified in the minutes are allocated to the appropriate person and completed. It is normally the responsibility of the Policy team to notify MPs of decisions, although this can be undertaken by other teams where appropriate.
Certain information about contingency applications and the Panel’s decisions, as well as costs claimed from the contingency budget, will be published on IPSA’s website, in line with IPSA’s publication policy.