Overview

Check what staffing and business costs are covered by the Scheme rules. Learn how IPSA reviews and approves claims.

You can also complete IPSA Online tasks on reimbursement (including travel), and declaring dependants.

Scheme rules

Note, this list is not exhaustive :

  1. Attendance at political party conferences or meetings.

  2. Work conducted for or at the behest of a political party.

  3. Activities relating to reviews of parliamentary constituency boundaries.

  4. Activities which could be construed as campaign expenditure within the scope of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, or election expenses within the scope of the Representation of the People Act 1983.

  5. Any other activities whose purpose is to give MPs a campaigning advantage in general elections and referendums.

  6. Work relating to delegations to an international assembly.

  7. Work relating to the performance of ministerial functions.

  8. Penalties or additional charges, such as those for late payments. [3.26]

  9. Costs that are insurable or can be funded from other sources. [3.27]

  10. Newsletters, alcoholic beverages, cleaning or gardening costs (in respect of accommodation)

If you’re not sure whether an activity constitutes campaign expenditure or election expenses, please contact the Electoral Commission. [3.5]

For more information about advertising and newsletters, visit What types of advertising can you claim?

Budget and financial limits set out in the Scheme are for the financial year starting 1 April, and ending 31 March of the following year. When referring to "year", we mean the financial year. [3.9]

IPSA sets the maximum budget limits and, from time to time, we may amend the budget conditions and limits set out in the Scheme. [3.11]

We may reduce budgets proportionately when they are made available to MPs at a date other than the start of the year, or closed before the end of the year. [3.10]

For example, if an MP is elected part way through a financial year, their budget will be pro-rated from their election date to 31 March.

For more information, visit Summary of 2021-22 budgets.

Budgets will also be pro-rated based on when an MP registers rental accommodation or a dependant [3.10].

For more information, visit:

Business costs cannot be transferred between budgets, nor charged before the start of the year unless you have our agreement.

What’s more, you cannot carry forward any unused budget allowance – except in certain cases relating to the start-up supplement.

For more information visit Office costs you can claim. [3.12]

“Air miles” and similar loyalty benefits or discounts earned on claimable purchases are not for personal use – they must be applied to further claimable expenditure. [3.25]

When claiming for costs, an MP’s constituency can include any location within 20 miles of the constituency boundary. [3.14]

Within the Scheme, MPs representing a London constituency are called "London area MPs". And those representing constituencies outside London, are termed "non-London area MPs". [3.15/3.16]

For more information, visit London area constituencies.

When an MP has “caring responsibilities”, they can claim some additional accommodation and travel costs. Those cared for are referred to as “dependants”. [3.17]

“Caring responsibilities” means:

  • parental responsibility for a dependent child up to age 18 or

  • being the primary carer for a family member receiving one or more of:

  1. Attendance Allowance

  2. Disability Living Allowance at the middle or highest rate for personal care

  3. Personal Independence Payment at the standard or enhanced rate for daily living

  4. Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit, or basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension

If a dependant meets one of the criteria above at the beginning of a financial year, the MP will be able to continue claiming for any relevant accommodation or travel costs for the remainder of the year. [3.18]

Limits to claims on caring responsibilities

Any MP who is sole carer for a dependent child between the ages of 18 to 21 years in full time education, and who had been claiming for the costs of accommodation or travel for them prior to 1 April 2017, may continue to do so until that dependant turns 21. [3.19]

To maintain integrity, care must be taken when dealing financially with “connected parties” – our term for immediate members of MPs’ families, and business partners with whom they share significant interests. [3.20]

The full definition of a connected party is:

  • a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner of the MP

  • parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, sibling, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the MP or of a spouse, civil partner or cohabiting partner of the MP

  • a body corporate, firm or trust with which the MP is connected, as defined in section 252 of the Companies Act 2006 [3.20]

To make a declaration, complete the Connected Party Declaration Form.

Understanding connected party restrictions

We will not pay claims relating to the purchase of goods or services, where the MP or a connected party is the provider of those goods or services. [3.21]

We will not pay any claims relating to an MP's rental of a property, where the MP or a connected party is the owner of the property in question. [3.22]

We will not pay the salaries, employers’ National Insurance contributions and pension contributions for connected parties employed on or after 9 June 2017. [3.23]

This exclusion does not apply to those employed before that date. [3.24]

Employees who later become connected parties

If an employee is not a connected party when initially employed but becomes one at a later date – we will only pay their salary and other costs for a period of up to two years after they become a connected party.

This limitation does not apply to connected parties employed before 9 June 2017. [3.24].

To make a declaration, complete the Connected Party Declaration Form.

It’s possible to claim for disability assistance and any additional costs incurred in the performance of an MP's parliamentary functions which are reasonably attributable to a disability of an MP, a staff member, a volunteer, a job applicant or constituents visiting the MPs’ office or a surgery. [10.1]

Note, claims for disability assistance can only be made by MPs for funding to support the performance of their parliamentary functions outside the parliamentary estate. [10.4]

Disability assistance available

Disability assistance is available to meet the costs of any “reasonable adjustments” required by the Equality Act 2010 including:

  • staff and associated costs

  • IT and other specialist equipment

  • office furniture

  • necessary adjustments to office premises or accommodation

  • necessary costs of securing larger office premises or accommodation

  • necessary additional travel costs (including for carers or support staff where necessary)

  • disability assessment [10.2]

Note, any such claim must be accompanied by an explanation of the nature of the disability and the assistance required. [10.3]

We also advise seeking prior approval for claims, especially if there is a large cost involved. For example, when it comes to buying specialist equipment, IPSA will require an estimate of costs in order to grant prior approval. [10.4]

Disability assistance claim limits

There is no set limit on the amount of disability assistance an MP may receive – the level of allowable claims will be decided on a case by case basis. [10.4]

Disability assessments

It’s not always necessary for MPs or staff to undergo a disability assessment in order to determine what reasonable adjustments are required. In many cases, the individual will already understand what is needed. However, if such an assessment is required, the cost should be claimed under disability assistance. [10.4]

Where a large cost is involved, we may require an independent assessment of the disability. If an MP or staff member has a temporary or minor injury which does not constitute a disability, for example a broken leg, it may be more suitable for them to claim for any required additional assistance from the contingency fund.

For more information, visit Applying for contingency payment.

When you cease to be an MP, you’re entitled to a winding-up budget to help cover the costs of wrapping up your parliamentary affairs. If you lose your seat at an election, you are entitled to two one-off payments:

  • a winding-up payment

  • a loss of office payment

MPs who stand down at a snap election are also eligible for a winding-up payment.

Download the Winding-up Declaration Form.

IPSA will pay for security measures that are recommended by the police.

Where such measures relate to a property, they may be installed at MPs’ registered constituency offices, IPSA-funded accommodation and MPs’ private residences. We will normally cover the costs for one constituency residence and one London residence only. [10.5]

Some recommended security measures may be unrelated to a specific property. [10.5]

Funding for recommended and further security measures is met from the security assistance budget.

Routine security measures may continue to be claimed from the office costs or accommodation costs budgets. [10.8]

Recommended security measures

We will fund the cost of security measures recommended by the National Police Chiefs’ Council. These are also owned by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and are developed by the National Counter Terrorism Security Office and Secured by Design. We fund these measures as a matter of routine. [10.6]

Further security measures

If MPs need additional security measures by recommendation of the police or the Parliamentary Liaison and Investigation Team, we will fund these on a case-by-case basis.

Such measures may be applied to MPs’ registered constituency offices, IPSA-funded accommodation and MPs’ private residences, or to other properties, depending on police advice.

Further security measures may also be unrelated to specific properties. [10.7]

Security measures for non-MPs

If police advice recommends it, we may fund further security measures for MP’s family or staff members. [10.8]

Paying for recommended security measures

If you’re using the House of Commons’ approved contractor to install the recommended measures, we will pay the contractor directly.

If you prefer to use a contractor of your choice you must submit an application for the funding supported by two independent quotes, before we can agree to proceed. [10.6]

Learn more about the Information Commissioner's Office fee.

In the event of a recall of Parliament during recess, IPSA will pay claims for any reasonable travel by MPs and their spouses, partners or dependants to Westminster or their London Area residence. This includes international travel back to the UK and, if necessary, return travel to the foreign location, from which they were recalled. MPs will be expected to claim for standard class or equivalent fares unless they have no alternative, or there is a more cost-effective option available. [10.16]

During the period between the dissolution of Parliament and the day after polling day, the following conditions will apply to claims. [10.17] MPs are allowed to claim:

  • accommodation costs, according to the normal rules [10.18]

  • office costs [10.19], but should only purchase office furniture, IT hardware, and other capital equipment if there is an exceptional need to do so [10.20]

  • staff travel claims for journeys between Westminster and the MP’s constituency office, and between their home and the constituency [10.23]

  • staff hotel costs and subsistence in case they need to stay overnight in the constituency [10.23]

Office equipment and supplies purchased in support of MPs’ parliamentary functions may not be used for party political or campaigning activities, except where the MP has paid a hire fee at the start of the dissolution period (the fee only covers IT equipment). MPs who choose to do this must ensure they comply with electoral law regarding expenses and donations. [10.21]

Any MP who intends to use his or her IPSA-funded office for any activities which could be construed as campaign expenditure or election expenses may only claim the proportion of the rent, utilities and other costs which relates to parliamentary activity. [10.19]

You are not allowed to claim staffing costs for party political or campaigning activity. Staff wishing to undertake party political activity must do so through paid or unpaid leave. If a staff member plans to take unpaid leave, MPs must notify us in advance so we can make the relevant pay adjustments. [10.22]

In addition to budgets and assistance specifically outlined in the Scheme, we may provide additional financial assistance to MPs if it’s deemed necessary to assist them in carrying out their parliamentary functions. This is at our discretion and on an individual basis. [10.24]

Using IPSA Online

This task has 23 steps and will take approximately 20 minutes to complete

  1. Note!

    To make a reimbursement claim, open IPSA Online.

    Before you begin you will need :

    • details of the expenses you are claiming

    • your receipts

    Remember to use Add information if you need to add further comments to your claim. This can be found towards the bottom of the screen.

  2. Step1

    From the main menu select Your employment

  3. Step2

    Select Expenses.

  4. Step3

    Select Reimbursement claim (MP).

    If you work in a MP’s office, you can claim your own expenses by selecting Reimbursement claim (Staff).

    All subsequent steps are the same.

  5. Step4

    In the On behalf of resource resource box, select who the claim should be paid to – this box only appears if you are the MP or Proxy.

  6. Step5

    In the Reference box, type a short description for this claim. This should be something to easily identify the claim at a later date.

  7. Step6

    Select Add expense from near the bottom of the screen.

  8. Step7

    Select an Expense category. You can start typing the expense and a list of possible expense categories is displayed.

    Alternatively, select the drop-down arrow to see the full list and then select the relevant category.

  9. Step8

    Use the Calendar icon to select the date the expense was incurred.

  10. Step9

    Add a Description for the expense.

  11. Step10

    Add the Amount of the expense that you are claiming for.

  12. Step11

    Select the Chevron icon at the end of the expense line.

    The chevrons open additional fields that are required for that particular expense.

  13. Step12

    Use the drop-down arrows to select the relevant budgets, addresses, stations, airports etc.

  14. Step13

    Repeat steps six to 12 until all expenses have been added.

    An expense claim should not be more than 20 lines long.

  15. Step14

    If you have further comments about any lines on your claim, select Add information towards the bottom of the screen. Type your comments in the pop-up box.

    Please make sure to reference which line on the claim each comment refers to.

  16. Step15

    You must now add receipts to each claim line and then submit the claim.

  17. Step16

    If you want to delete a claim line, select the entry you wish to remove.

  18. Step17

    Select Delete expense.

  19. Step18

    To copy a claim line, tick the entry you want to replicate.

  20. Step19

    Select Copy expense.

    Repeat until you have all the lines you need.

  21. Step20

    When submitting a claim, make sure you have attached all relevant evidence.

  22. Step21

    Make sure you check your claim for errors before submission. It may not always be possible to withdraw or amend it before payment is made.

  23. Step22

    Select Submit in the bottom left corner of the screen.

  24. Step23

    A pop-up window will appear informing you the claim has been sent for approval and displaying the claim form reference number.

    Select OK.

  25. Step24

    The Claim Form will remain open. You will need to close this by selecting the X at the top of the expenses tab.

For further information, visit Adding receipts to a claim.

This guide has 14 steps and should take 15 minutes to complete.

  1. Note!

    Before you start, collect all your travel receipts and evidence of travel, and open IPSA Online.

    Remember to use Add information if you need to add further comments to your claim. This can be found towards the bottom of the screen.

  2. Step1

    On the menu, select Your employment.

  3. Step2

    Select Expenses.

  4. Step3

    Select Reimbursement claim (MP).

    If you work in a MP’s office, you can claim your own expenses by selecting Reimbursement claim (Staff).

    All subsequent steps are the same.

  5. Step4

    In the On behalf of resource resource box, select who the claim should be paid to – this box only appears if you are the MP or Proxy.

  6. Step5

    In the Reference box, type a short description for this claim – this should be something to easily identify the claim at a later date.

  7. Step6

    Select Add expense from near the bottom of the screen.

  8. Step7

    Select an Expense category. You can start typing the expense and a list of possible expenses is displayed.

    Alternatively, select the drop down arrow to see the full list and choose the relevant category.

  9. Step8

    Use the Calendar icon to select the date the expense was incurred.

  10. Step9

    Add a Description for the expense.

  11. Step10

    Add the Amount of the expense that you are claiming for.

  12. Step11

    Select the Chevron icon at the end of the expense line.

    The chevrons open additional fields that are required for that particular expense.

  13. Step12

    Use the drop-down arrows to select the relevant budgets, addresses, stations, airports etc.

  14. Step13

    Repeat steps six to 12 until all expenses have been added.

    An expense claim should not be more than 20 lines long.

  15. Step14

    If you have further comments about any lines on your claim, select Add information towards the bottom of the screen. Type your comments in the pop-up box.

    Please make sure to reference which line on the claim each comment refers to.

  16. Step15

    You must now add receipts to each claim line and then submit the claim.

  17. Step16

    Select Reimbursement claim (MP).

    If you work in a MP’s office, you can claim your own expenses by selecting Reimbursement claim (Staff).

    All subsequent steps are the same.

  18. Step17

    Select Submit form.

For more information on visit Uploading receipts and Adding receipts to a claim.

Downloads

Guidance

IPSA checks claims for business costs and expenses as part of its regulatory function. Some of this is conducted before a claim is paid, and some of it afterwards.

We check that the claim you have made is a permitted cost within the Scheme of MPs’ Staffing and Business Costs. Several changes have been made to the Scheme in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in an Addendum to the Scheme.

We check that the evidence matches the claim and is acceptable, as set out in our Evidence requirements.

We will communicate with you about how this will happen within IPSA Online. It will appear as a task. We will explain what we need from you in order to process your claim further.

It may be that a claim line has been categorised incorrectly and needs to be changed to the correct expense type, or “category”.

We may ask you for more evidence if the evidence you have submitted doesn’t meet the requirements set out in our Evidence requirements.

If you have submitted a claim that is outside the Scheme, such as one made more than 120 days from the date the expense was incurred, we will not pay it. You will be notified of this in IPSA Online. You will be able to request a review at this stage if you do not agree with the decision.

Periodically, we conduct reviews of past claims. If we notice any errors that need correcting, we will contact you via IPSA Online, and sometimes with supporting emails or notifications in our Bulletin. This may take the form of a credit note, which will appear in your tasks.

You may find it helpful to read our guidance on Repaying IPSA.

IPSA funds certain types of written communication with constituents. These could include:

  • letters about single issues affecting the constituency

  • materials that signpost to other sources of advice

  • surveys

  • information about how to contact an MP

  • information about an MP’s surgeries

Types of advertising not covered

Under the Scheme, the following types of advertising can't be claimed:

  • anything party-political or containing campaigning statements

  • communications about local elections

  • newsletters, annual reports and multi-issue communications

  • explicitly self-promotional content aimed at raising political profiles

  • gathering data (for example via surveys) to support campaigning activity

  • advertising featuring the views or endorsements of other politicians  

Things to consider before making a claim

You should consider the following points when deciding whether to make a claim for advertising or constituency communications:

  • whether the information in the advert or constituent communication supports your parliamentary work

  • whether the information you are communicating is readily available elsewhere or is the role of another public body to promote

  • whether the material could be construed as campaigning or self-promotional, or targets particular constituency groups for campaigning purposes

  • whether you have included party political images or photographs

  • whether the communication covers multiple issues and would be defined as a “newsletter” which is not claimable under the Scheme rules

  • whether some or all of the costs can be funded from other sources, such as local government or other agencies

  • whether, in light of the considerations outlined above, the publication represents value for money

Please note that IPSA generally does not consider communication about local elections to be a parliamentary activity.

How do we define “newsletters”?

Costs relating to newsletters are not claimable under the Scheme rules.

We define a newsletter as a publication that provides an update on multiple issues or events and/or focuses on an MP's own activities over time.

These can come in different formats, and some publications may serve multiple purposes, but cannot be funded with newsletter content included.

Publications that provide a general update on Westminster or constituency activities – such as a look back at the “year in review” or similar – are generally considered to be newsletters.

If you are unsure about a claim you should contact the MP Services team via the call booking service or by email to info@theipsa.org.uk.

During a campaign period, you may continue to use IPSA-funded resources (including parliamentary staff, your office, supplies and equipment funded by IPSA) in the normal way for your parliamentary functions. However, you are not allowed to use IPSA funds for political campaigning purposes.

Any use of IPSA funds for either party or candidate campaign purposes contravenes the IPSA rules and may also be regarded as a donation by the Electoral Commission. IPSA is not a permissible donor for candidates, and so using any IPSA-funded resources for your election campaign may be a criminal offence.

This means that if you use your office for campaigning activities, you may only claim from IPSA the proportion of the rent and utilities which relate to your parliamentary work. If IPSA pays the rent to your landlord directly, you will need to repay a relevant proportion of rental costs if you use your office for any campaigning activity. For example, if in a month you use your constituency office for campaigning 25% of the time, you must repay a quarter of the rent for that month. You can do this by sending us a bank transfer, along with a completed Repayment Form.

Office supplies and equipment already funded by IPSA for parliamentary work may not be used for party political or electoral activities. If you have not yet claimed for supplies or equipment, you should only claim the amount which relates to your parliamentary functions. You should not use your payment card or any of the direct payment options (i.e. Banner, Commercial or XMA) to purchase any item which is to be used wholly or partly for campaigning purposes.

Staff

If any of your staff wish to undertake any campaigning activities (such as canvassing, writing party political speeches, stuffing envelopes, etc.) they must either:

  • take unpaid leave;

  • take annual leave;

  • take time off in lieu; or

  • do it outside of their normal working hours (for example, evenings and weekends).

If staff are taking unpaid leave, you must tell us in advance (and by the 15th of the month) by completing the Unpaid Leave Form. This will ensure that the proper adjustments can be made to their pay. Please note you only need to contact us if your staff members choose to take unpaid leave: we don’t need to know about staff taking annual leave, time off in lieu or who are campaigning outside their normal working hours.

Given the high levels of external interest in campaign activities, we would strongly encourage you to keep your own records of these arrangements.

If you realise after the fact that your staff members did undertake campaigning activities while on paid IPSA time, you must either:

  • arrange for the time to be deducted from their annual leave entitlement; or

  • tell us by completing the Unpaid Leave Form so that we can make adjustments to their pay.

Where you are unable to tell us before the 15th of the month about a staff member’s plan to take unpaid leave, or you are telling us after the campaigning activity has taken place, we will deduct the appropriate amount from the individual’s pay for the following month.

Contact IPSA

To get additional support, book a call back.