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

MPs are responsible for complying with the Scheme rules.

In making any claim under the Scheme, MPs must certify that the expenditure was for the performance of their parliamentary functions and that in incurring the expenditure they had complied with the Scheme.

Before we pay any claims, MPs must first agree they will abide by the rules of the Scheme of MPs’ Staffing and Business Costs (“the Scheme”).

We cannot consider any claims from MPs who have not yet done so. [3.1/3.2]

The Scheme makes provision for the exercise in certain circumstances of discretion by MPs and by IPSA.

Such discretion is not absolute. At all times it must be exercised reasonably, taking account of the fundamental principles of the Scheme. [3.3]

The following are examples of activities that are not considered parliamentary for the purposes of this Scheme, and are therefore not claimable from IPSA:

  • attendance at political party conferences or meetings

  • work which is conducted for or at the behest of a political party

  • activities relating to reviews of parliamentary constituency boundaries

  • 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

  • any other activities whose purpose is to give MPs a campaigning advantage in general elections and referendums

  • work relating to delegations to an international assembly, or

  • work relating to the performance of ministerial functions [3.4]

Help us to help you

MPs must provide any information or assistance reasonably required by IPSA to carry out its management assurance functions to ensure the appropriate and cost-effective use of public funds, or for the purposes of audit. [3.5]

Impact of disciplinary proceedings

Any duty of IPSA to fund any business cost for an MP is subject to anything done in relation to the MP in the exercise of the disciplinary powers of the House of Commons. [3.6]

Information about business costs

IPSA will publish information relating to MPs’ costs on our website in accordance with our policy and procedures relating to such publication. [3.7]

This is subject to the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act, which can influence what we publish.

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 that 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.

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

Managing spending

MPs are responsible for planning, forecasting and managing their own budgets using the tools available on IPSA Online.

MPs may incur business costs above the stated limits in the Scheme if they wish to do so. However, any business costs above these limits will not be met by IPSA. [3.9]

Unless specified elsewhere, all budgets and financial limits set out in this Scheme are for a year commencing on 1 April and ending on 31 March of the following year. All references to a "year" are to be read in this context.

IPSA may reduce budgets proportionately when they are made available to MPs after the start of the year or are closed before the end of the year. [3.10]

IPSA may from time to time amend the budgets and cost limits set out in this Scheme. [3.11]

Read the Summary of 2023-24 budgets.

Business costs may not be transferred between budgets, nor may they be charged in advance of the beginning of a year, except with IPSA’s agreement.

Amounts not utilised in any particular year's budget may not be carried forward into subsequent years, except, in certain cases, in relation to the start-up supplement. [3.12]

Expenditure above the budget limit in any particular year may not be offset from budgets in the subsequent year, other than at IPSA’s discretion in exceptional circumstances.

In such cases, the budget for the subsequent year will be reduced accordingly. [3.13]

For more information visit Office costs you can claim.

“Air miles” or similar customer loyalty benefits and other discounts earned on purchases for which claims are payable under this Scheme are not for personal use but must be applied to further claimable expenditure. [3.25]

For the purpose of claiming costs under the Scheme, MPs’ constituencies include any location which is within 20 miles of the constituency boundaries. [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”.

“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 [3.17]

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

Limits to claims on caring responsibilities

Any MP who is the 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.

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

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

IPSA 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. [3.22]

IPSA will not pay the salaries and other costs of any new employees who are connected parties and are employed on or after 9 June 2017. [3.23]

Employees who later become connected parties

If employees are not connected parties when initially employed by MPs but become connected parties at a later date, IPSA will only pay their salaries and other costs for a period of up to 24 months after the point at which they become connected parties.

If employees become connected parties during the course of their employment, it is the responsibility of the MP to notify IPSA. [3.24].

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

Disability assistance may be claimed by any MP for additional parliamentary costs incurred in fulfilling their obligations under the Equality Act 2010, by providing workplace adjustments for people with disabilities including staff members, volunteers, job applicants or constituents visiting the MP’s office or surgery.

Disability assistance is also available to fund workplace adjustments for MPs who have a disability. [10.1]

Disability assistance available

Disability assistance may be claimed to meet the costs of any workplace adjustments including, but not limited to:

  • staff and associated costs

  • IT and other specialist equipment

  • office furniture

  • adjustments to office premises or accommodation

  • necessary costs of securing larger office premises or accommodation, and

  • additional travel costs (including for carers or support staff where necessary) [10.2]

Claims for disability assistance will be decided on a case-by-case basis and there is no set limit on the amount of disability assistance funding an MP may receive.

Further information on MPs’ responsibilities regarding workplace adjustments, the funding available and the regulatory checks IPSA will conduct when assessing claims is set out in guidance.

MPs should review this guidance when considering workplace adjustments and before making claims. [10.3]

Disability assessments

IPSA may also use its discretion to provide disability assistance for MPs who have short-term medical conditions that mean they need additional but temporary support for their parliamentary role. [10.4]

For more information, visit Applying for contingency payment.

Winding-up costs may be claimed by former MPs from the budgets outlined in the Scheme to support them in completing their outstanding parliamentary functions, including the costs of closing down constituency offices.

Winding-up costs may be claimed following a general election by former MPs who have not stood for re-election or have lost their seat at the election, as well as by those who cease to be MPs during a parliament. [8.1]

Download the Winding-up Declaration Form.

As of 1 April 2023, funding for MPs’ security measures has transferred to the House of Commons. Security assistance funding is no longer available from IPSA.

“Routine” security and safety costs may continue to be claimed from the accommodation and office costs budget. [10.5]

For more information about security measures, visit the Members' Security Support Service.

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. [10.13]

During the period between the dissolution of Parliament and the day after polling day, the following conditions will apply to claims. [10.14]

Accommodation costs may be claimed in accordance with the normal rules. [10.15]

Office costs may be claimed in accordance with the normal rules.

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 fee.

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 relate to parliamentary activity. [10.16]

While they may continue to exercise discretion in claiming for office costs, MPs should only purchase office furniture, IT hardware and other capital equipment where there is an exceptional need to do so. [10.17]

An MP who wishes to use existing IT equipment, which has been purchased using IPSA funds, for campaigning activity may do so provided they pay a "hire" fee, as specified by IPSA, at the start of the dissolution period.

MPs who choose to do this must ensure that they comply with electoral law regarding expenses and donations. [10.18]

Staffing costs may not be claimed for any party political or campaigning activity.

Staff wishing to undertake party political activity must not do so during their working hours and must instead take paid or unpaid leave.

If a staff member plans to take unpaid leave, MPs must notify IPSA in advance, so that pay adjustments can be made. [10.19]

Staff who normally work for MPs at Westminster may claim for travel between Westminster and the MP’s constituency office.

They may also claim for journeys between their home and the constituency office.

If they need to stay overnight in the constituency, they may claim for hotels and other subsistence.

In all other respects, the normal travel and subsistence rules apply. [10.20]

In addition to any other payments or assistance, IPSA may, at its discretion and on an individual basis, provide any additional financial assistance to MPs it deems necessary to assist them in carrying out their parliamentary functions. [10.21]

Using IPSA Online

Guidance

IPSA checks claims for business costs 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 business-cost types, or budget 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 90 days from the date the cost 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.

The cost of accountancy services which are solely related to your parliamentary duties can be claimed from the office costs budget.

This may include the preparation of self-assessment tax returns as per HMRC guidelines.

Personal accountancy or tax advice is not claimable under the Scheme, including self-assessment tax returns for personal activities or income.

Tax or other financial advice relating to a McCloud PCPF pension choice is not claimable. When submitting claims for accountancy costs, you must provide an invoice that shows the cost in time spent on your parliamentary activities only.

Alternatively, if the invoice includes advice on personal/non-parliamentary activities, the invoice must clearly separate the cost in time spent on each activity.

You are only permitted to claim back the cost of the time spent on your parliamentary activities.

IPSA provides all MPs with a P60 each year, which is uploaded to your IPSA Online document archive (usually uploaded around May).

A P60 is a statement showing what salary was taxable over the year, and the tax you paid. This can be used for your tax returns.

If you have any taxable expenses throughout the year, you will receive a monthly statement when the taxable expenses go through the payroll.

This is also in your document archive in IPSA Online. As IPSA provides MPs with relevant information on the costs that are taxable, it may not represent value for money for MPs to claim professional advice on this.

However, there may be other parliamentary activities which generate income which you may want advice on – for example:

  • fees collected from surveys

  • television interviews

  • newspaper articles

  • speaking engagements

MPs must use reasonable discretion when claiming for parliamentary accountancy.

Claims for parliamentary accountancy should be allocated to the office costs budget only under the claim category "bought-in services" and the sub-category "parliamentary accountancy".

Website costs such as hosting and design fees and professional fees for website updates can be claimed if the website content is in accordance with the Scheme rules.

As per paragraph 3.4 of the Scheme, content must not be party-political or be used to give an MP a campaigning advantage.

Allowable content

  • Information about how to contact the MP and surgery/parliamentary event details.

  • Surveys on parliamentary issues – for more information, visit What types of advertising and publications can you claim?

  • As per paragraph 6.5.c of the Scheme, costs relating to newsletters are not claimable. It is, however, reasonable for MPs to include multi-issue communications and blog content on their websites. This is not permitted for any other communications claims. MPs may also include a link to a newsletter or give constituents the option to sign up for a newsletter so long as the newsletter is parliamentary in content.

  • Social media plugins and links are permitted if they are parliamentary in nature. MP’s can consider including links rather than feeds to ensure no party content is being displayed on their IPSA-funded website.

Please note: IPSA’s policy on embedded social media feeds is currently being reviewed and will be updated shortly.

Content that is not allowable

  • Content that primarily serves to promote government policy or party messaging – for example, a recap of government/party policy where accompanied by a value judgment about how successful these policies/measures have been.

  • Content that includes party-political messages, imagery, or campaigning statements. Care should be taken to ensure that colour schemes are neutral and not affiliated with a political party.

  • Communications about local elections.

  • Explicitly self-promotional content aimed at raising political profiles. For instance, overuse of promotional pictures and pictures with other MPs, especially party leadership, is not permitted.

  • Gathering data (for instance via surveys) to support campaigning activity. Please see below for our guidance on data collection.

  • Content featuring the views or endorsements of other politicians.

  • Links to join, volunteer for, or donate to a political party. Parliamentary donations are also not permitted. If you require additional funding to conduct your parliamentary work, visit Applying for contingency payment.

We do not permit IPSA-funded websites to be part-funded by political parties so that they can partly contain party-political material.

Website content must be in accordance with the Scheme rules.

MPs’ staff must also not spend time during their contracted working day on party-political or campaigning aspects of websites and newsletters. Staff are expected to carry out work that is in support of an MP’s parliamentary duties only.

Making a claim for a website

When making a claim on IPSA Online for websites, MPs must include a web address for our Validation team to review.

If an MP’s website is found to be in breach of the Scheme, the MP will be asked to either remove or amend the noncompliant content.

If further breaches are identified, MPs may be asked to repay any website, hosting and/or design fees back to IPSA.

Digital imprints

MPs may choose to add a footer on any IPSA-funded website to inform members of the public that the site has been funded in full or in part by the taxpayer. This provides transparency for members of the public but is not required by IPSA rules. However, MPs are responsible for ensuring they comply with the Electoral Commission’s rules in this area.

The Electoral Commission has published a recent rule change concerning digital imprints.

For more information, please visit Digital imprints.

General election guidance on websites

IPSA-funded websites must not be used for electoral campaigning.

For more information on website usage at a general election, visit The dissolution period – websites.

Data collection

Where an IPSA-funded website is used to collect data from constituents – for example, through an embedded survey or sign-up link to an MP's newsletter – the data collection should be used for parliamentary purposes only.

MPs should not use this data for party-political or campaigning purposes (as highlighted in para 3.5.d of the Scheme) and they should not share this data with a political party.

If your material is funded by the House of Commons or IPSA in accordance with their rules, then it is unlikely to require an imprint.

These bodies do not fund party-political or self-promotional material (material which can be seen to promote the office holder), and the material they do fund is unlikely to be election material. However, if you are unsure, we recommend including an imprint to ensure you are not in breach of the law.

If you have claimed from IPSA for the costs of publishing a paid digital advert, different requirements apply to these.

For more information, visit the Electoral Commission's statutory guidance on digital imprints – paid adverts.

As a UK Parliamentary general election approaches, it becomes possible that some material funded by the House of Commons or IPSA could be deemed "election material" under Electoral Commission guidance.

Election material is material whose purpose can reasonably be regarded as intending to promote or procure electoral success for a candidate or future candidate. Any election material would require an imprint.

For more information, please visit the Electoral Commission's statutory guidance on digital imprints – election material. If Parliament has not been dissolved by 18 July 2024, the regulated period for candidate spending will begin on that date. This may affect hardcopy communications as well as digital ones.

Whether something requires a digital imprint does not in and of itself affect whether a cost can be funded by either IPSA or the House of Commons, and you must ensure you continue to follow the rules set by both bodies at all times.

For advice on Electoral Commission rules please get in touch with the Commission advice line at pef@electoralcommission.org.uk or by calling 0333 103 1928.

Mailchimp has recently begun charging a subscription fee to use its services. MPs and offices should consider the type of material being shared under a paid-for subscription.

A subscription to Mailchimp can be claimed if the MP can assure themselves that:

  • Mailchimp is collecting the data in the right way to be GDPR compliant.

  • The data collected is not used for purposes excluded under the Scheme, such as party-political activity and campaigning.

  • IPSA-funded subscriptions are not used for purposes disallowed in the Scheme.

The Scheme also prohibits the use of public funds from IPSA for a newsletter and outlines the types of advertising that can’t be claimed.

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

When we look at copy (outside of a subscription service) we consider the following points together:

  • Is it a newsletter?

  • Is it self-promotional, party-political, or campaigning in nature?

This means that IPSA may refuse a claim for subscription services if used for this type of material.

The sending of any material or content that is outside of the Scheme cannot be sent using this sort of mail subscription account if paid for with public funds from IPSA budgets.

Claims for proportionate or a percentage of costs based on the expected use or purpose would not be allowed.

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

Data collection

Where IPSA funds are used to collect data from MPs’ constituents – for example by sending surveys through the mail or via social media – the data collected should not be used for purposes that are prohibited under the Scheme.

MPs should not share data that has been collected through parliamentary surveys or other parliamentary work with a political party.

This includes, for example, using such data in supporting campaigning activities (as per the Scheme at 3.4).

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.

We understand that MPs may want to communicate with their constituents regarding the cost-of-living crisis and sources of support. Generally speaking, this is allowable under the Scheme and IPSA will pay claims related to the printing and distribution of leaflets, subject to this guidance.

As with all IPSA-funded activity, these communications must be parliamentary in nature and not be done on behalf of the government or a political party or contain party political messaging.

There is a particular risk which MPs and staff should bear in mind that communications, especially about a politically charged issue, can be interpreted as party or campaigning leaflets by members of the public.

Examples of approved cost-of-living leaflets

  • Information about what the MP and their office can help with, including ways to get in touch and/or surgery details.

  • Practical advice for constituents on how to seek support – for example, how to check to make sure they are in receipt of all benefits/support payments they are entitled to.

  • Signposting to local agencies and charities who can offer support.

  • Reminders about government guidance and support measures that may be available (so long as this is done in a neutral way, without value judgement or party political messaging).

Content that is not allowable

  • Content that primarily serves to promote government policy or party messaging – for example, a recap of support measures where accompanied by a value judgement about how successful government measures have been.

  • Content that places the blame for the cost-of-living crisis on another party.

Please consider carefully the purpose of a leaflet you would like to produce and avoid content which could be considered party political or explicitly self-promotional.

You do not need to send a draft to IPSA beforehand, but if you are unsure please get in touch with your Account Manager.

IPSA does not provide funding relating to newsletters.

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

We have provided some answers to frequently asked questions about the use of budgets for celebrations to support MPs and their staff in conducting their parliamentary activities during the festive season.

The answers give broad guidance about what is allowable under the Scheme.

There is discretion within budgets for some items, but we would remind MPs that claims:

  • should represent value for money, especially in the current economic climate

  • must be expressly parliamentary in nature

  • should not be party-political, campaigning, or self-promotional

All claims will be published in the usual manner.

Can MPs claim the cost of celebratory cards?

Yes, MPs can claim the costs of celebratory cards under the discretion allowed under the Scheme.

IPSA expects that value for money is considered, and that the circulation of the cards is limited – for example, they should not be sent to large groups or all constituents as there is a risk this may not represent value for money and could be considered self-promotional.

Can MPs claim the cost of card printing and postage?

Yes, MPs can claim the cost of card printing and postage at the discretion allowed under the Scheme.

Can MPs issue a festive/New Year calendar in lieu of a card?

Issuing a calendar simply as a promotional item is not permitted and would not be considered a parliamentary activity.

If however, you wish to send a leaflet or flyer whose main purpose is parliamentary (for example signposting advice, or MP contact details) and a calendar is included as an ancillary item, this is permissible.

Can MPs claim the cost of food and drink for a festive office event for employees?

Yes, 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.

Can MPs claim the cost of food and drink for a festive event or gathering within the constituency?

Any event or gathering must be explicitly within a parliamentary context.

If this meets the criteria, then refreshments can be provided as they would be for any other event.

Organising a purely social event within the constituency is not claimable under the rules.

Can MPs claim the cost of festive decorations for their office?

MPs can claim the cost of festive decorations for their office under the discretion they have for use of their office costs budget.

Can MPs claim the cost of, or make a contribution to, decoration displays to the outside of their constituency office?

No, the Scheme does not allow for this type of claim.

Decoration displays are normally provided by local authorities and/or community groups, and this is not considered a parliamentary cost.

Can MPs claim the costs of presents/certificates relating to a competition (for example, at a school)?

If an MP wants to run a competition with a parliamentary purpose then a low-value prize may be made available for the winner of the competition, for example, sweets, chocolate, or a certificate.

It is not expected that public money would be used for a high-value gift.

Can MPs organise a toy donation drive or similar promotions?

Toy donation drives or similar charitable activities are not considered parliamentary in nature. The cost of advertising or other associated costs is not allowed under the Scheme.

Letter from IPSA Chief Executive, 24 November 2022

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 (ie, 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.

This webinar outlines how to make and manage reimbursement claims using IPSA Online.

Watch the Managing reimbursement claims in IPSA Online webinar.

Contact IPSA

To get additional support, contact us.